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Local Authority Research in Scotland

Local Authority Approaches to Managing Water Safety- A 10-year comparative analysis


In 2013, RoSPA Scotland carried out research that focussed on local authority approaches to managing water safety. Overall, a mixed picture was found: several local authorities were addressing water safety but there was little in the way of uniformity or issues being considered strategically.

In 2018, this research was repeated to understand the status of local authorities addressing water safety five years on. In 2023, this has been repeated to gain insight into this subject 10 years after the original research.
The research has three main objectives:

  1. To understand the responsibility for water safety, current policy arrangements and commitments that have been made towards managing water safety
  2. To understand shared approaches and barriers to the implementation of water safety work
  3. To identify a clear understanding of the strategic national direction in Scotland and how this relates to local government.
 Headline figures from the ten-year comparative analysis show:
  • Scotland’s local authorities ranked water safety as an important issue in respect to other demands
  • Leadership of water safety was still mixed, with a range of different departments involved. However, around 70 percent of local authorities reported having a lead person or department
  • 25 percent of local authorities have a water safety policy


Accidental Drowning Fatalities in Scotland. Males aged 60 – 69

Every year an average of 50 people accidentally drown in Scotland, with men aged 60-69 being most at risk, according to a RoSPA assessment of data.

This report focuses on Water Incident Database (WAID) data over a five-year period from 2012 to 2016 and looks specifically at males aged 60 – 69 in Scotland.

This analysis has revealed a number of key points regarding 60 to 69-year-old males:

  • There were 35 fatalities during the five-year period
  • Accidental drownings accounted for 80 per cent of this figure
  • The average age of a fatality was 65
  • Half of the accidental fatalities happened at the coast
  • More than one third of incidents happened in spring. Thursdays and Saturdays were the most common day for a fatality
  • 90 per cent of fatalities happened during the daytime
  • Approximately 6 in 10 accidental fatalities were the result of recreational water activities
  • Angling is the leading cause of recreational drowning fatalities
  • Alcohol was suspected in 14 per cent of cases
  • Around half of the fatalities were alone prior to the incident
  • Exactly half of the fatalities were classified as local.


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