This is the first time new high-definition CCTV camera footage has been used by the Falmouth Harbour Authority in a prosecution – in addition to speeding through the Inner Harbour, the RIB driver was seen using his mobile phone, not wearing a kill-cord or a lifejacket

A boat owner caught on Falmouth Harbour’s CCTV system operating at speeds of around 18 knots – almost three times the 6 knot inner harbour limit – during a busy summer’s day has been ordered to pay £3,061 in fines and costs by Magistrates sitting in Truro, Cornwall.

David Morgan, aged 51, of Lawn Drive, Chudleigh, Newton Abbot, pleaded guilty to navigating a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) over the speed limit, unnecessarily navigating through moorings and failing to navigate with care and caution during the incident in July 2023.

Falmouth Harbour’s 6 knot speed limit sign

Falmouth Harbour’s 6 knot speed limit for the inner harbour is marked on signs and buoys. Credit: Falmouth Harbour

Falmouth Harbour Master Miles Featherstone said: “The safety and wellbeing of all Falmouth Harbour water users is at the heart of our operations and as a Trust Port we have legal responsibilities to people, property, wildlife and the environment.
“There are speed restrictions within Harbour limits for very good reason and while it gives us no pleasure to take anyone to court, we are sending out a message that in extreme cases like this we, as a Harbour Authority, can and will prosecute offenders.
“We want all harbour users to enjoy themselves, but to do so safely.”

“Clear, excessive, speed”

Falmouth Harbour’s new high-definition CCTV system, announced in July 2023, is specifically designed to monitor water-borne speed and behaviour with a mind to keeping people, wildlife and property safer. This incident last summer is the first time it has been used by the Falmouth Harbour Authority in a prosecution.

“We record movements in the Harbour 24/7, because unfortunately some people – either wilfully or through ignorance of the regulations – routinely break our Harbour byelaws,” added Miles. “Ignorance of the regulations that are there to keep people safe is no defence, since it’s a skipper’s duty to check local rules before they set out (all of which are available on our website).
“Speed is proven to be a major factor in many marine accidents through collision or excessive wake. There have been a number of recent boating fatalities, proven to have been caused by excessive speed. So clearly your speed needs to be kept low when you’re manoeuvring in a harbour where there are hundreds of boats on moorings, large commercial and leisure vessels on the move, wildlife, and people swimming off quays and beaches.”

The CCTV images in this case were clear, so that as well as providing evidence of the speed of the vessel through the Inner Harbour it showed that at one point the Morgan was using his mobile phone, he was not using a kill-cord (designed to cut the engine in an emergency) and no one on the boat was wearing a lifejacket.

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A CCTV camera view of Falmouth Harbour

A CCTV view of Falmouth Harbour. Credit: Falmouth Harbour

The Falmouth Harbour cameras were installed following the success of a similar system used at Plymouth’s Cattewater Harbour, where recorded images have been used to prosecute water-users contravening harbour byelaws including speeding and cutting through moorings.

The system is fully compliant with the Data Protection Act & GDPR requirements following a Data Protection Impact Assessment. Data will only be processed if an offence is suspected and all images are deleted after three months.