Drowning Statistics

Annual drowning totals: 1983 - 2011

Drowning statistics

Click here to view annual drowning totals and download summary sheets for each year.

RoSPA has been working to reduce the number of drownings since the 1950's. We have actively campaigned to improve water safety education and awareness, through such initiatives as the Water Safety Code.

Central to that effort is the monitoring of drowning events; this helps us to better understand who, where and why a person drowns; this in turn underpins any prevention activity.

The RoSPA system uses press cuttings and other sources of information, such as Coroner's and Police reports to generate a record. These reports are analysed and common factors extracted from each case, e.g. age, gender, location, activity, behaviour etc.

The RoSPA system now contributes to the WAter Incident Database (WAID). Historical data back to 2005 is being transferred into WAID, older data and reports will be held in archive and where possible made available on this page.

Data Collection


In 1983, RoSPA set up a system for recording and analysing press reported accidental drownings in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man).


From 1997 a joint system with The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) was adopted. This form of reporting gave a more consistent data set and recorded all the incidents at which there was a police presence. This new collection method resulted in an increase in the total number of drownings recorded.


Following the creation of the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) in 2005, RoSPA has been working to create a more comprehensive database. Data from 2004 onwards has been classed as experimental – as we have added numerous stakeholders and data sources. This has ultimately led to the creation of the WAter Incident Database (WAID). We are currently entering data from these stakeholders going back to 2005 to allow more consistent reporting trends.

The WAID Database

WAID is a joint system developed by the NWSF to enable greater detail and volume in the collection of data on fatal and non-fatal water-related incidents – reflecting the wider range of harm occurring in and around water. For more information see the WAID Database.

Further Links

Home and Leisure Accident Statistics (HASS/LASS) [Home Safety]

For the first time home and leisure accident data is available for you to search independently. Data is provided for the years 2000 to 2002, taken from a representative sample of hospital attendances around the UK. National estimated figures are given.

2005 Suspected Accidental Drownings

This document provides an analysis of suspected accidental drownings for 2005. It looks at location and activity of victims, broken down into adults and children.

2005 Child Accidental Drownings

This document provides further detail and analysis into child drownings in the UK for 2005.

Related Links

Date Created: June 2011
* RoSPA cannot be held responsible for the accuracy or completeness of any pages on linked websites.

Share this page: