An enforcement officer’s project that consisted of intensive enforcement action against a selected group of liveaboards without home moorings provides more information about CRT/BW’s enforcement strategy. The “Final Report into non-compliance of British Waterways Continuous Cruiser regulations on the South Oxford Canal” shows that CRT/BW is sending enforcement letters to boaters that are designed to pressure them to travel longer distances, without telling them what distance is considered acceptable to avoid enforcement action.
The Pre-CC1 letters allege that boaters are not travelling far enough to comply with “legal requirements” but do not inform them of of CRT/BW’s target of putting “all boats that travel less than 30km during their contract period into the enforcement process”. As a result of receiving these letters, some of the 91 boats selected for harassment were pressurised into travelling far more than 30km, and others left CRT/BW waterways altogether.
Section 17 3 c ii of the 1995 British Waterways Act does not specify any particular cruising pattern or minimum distance that boats without home moorings must travel, which is why the 30km target is unlawful and why CRT/BW cannot publicise this target. However, we know about it from a Freedom of Information request – see our previous article http://kanda.boatingcommunity.org.uk/wordpress/bw-to-take-enforcement-action-against-all-boats-travelling-less-than-30km/
In the continuous cruising report, the enforcement officer complains that “Having an adjoining waterway not controlled by British Waterways makes enforcement more difficult as boats can move between the two areas to avoid further action.” This absolutely beggars belief. Boaters are free to take their boats onto any navigation authority’s waters (if they obtain the relevant licence). CRT/BW’s enforcers just have to live with the fact that they are not the only navigation authority in the country. It throws a lot of light on the bullying mindset that they wish they could pursue boats even after they leave CRT/BW jurisdiction – regardless of the fact that they have already successfully applied pressure and harassment and forced the boat off their waterways. The summary report for the project states “It is evident that by applying pressure to boats to comply with the continuous cruiser guidelines around 50% have increased their movement.”
The report demonstrates that the real agenda behind the campaign of harassment against itinerant boat dwellers is to force more boats to take moorings. This is what BW wanted in 1990 – that every boat should have a mooring. Parliament did not consider this appropriate, which is why Section 17 3 c ii exists.
The report also states that “As we move forward and target a wider group of boats across more areas I think more continuous cruisers will become aware that they need to move more regularly and over larger distances although it may not be achievable to reach the 30km target for continuous cruisers for some years.”
However, the author also expresses concern about the cost to the CRT of taking enforcement action: “As a customer focused charity all of our customers will be important to us including those living and working from their boats.”
“One of the considerations to take into account before proceeding with enforcement action is the financial cost to the new Trust if we decide to enforce against all craft that are not moving on a ‘bona fide’journey.”
There are two reports of this project, a full report in October 2011 with a separate appendix, and a final report in March 2012. You can download them here: