Scottish local authorities met today (Tuesday, April 9) with water safety charities to discuss and shape policies to prevent drowning deaths and serious injuries.
Representatives from Perth and Kinross Council, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) led workshop sessions at the water safety summit at the RNLI’s headquarters in Perth.
During the day, breakout sessions were held to allow for in-depth discussions about water safety and to share best practice for accident prevention near and on water. During these talks, local authorities were encouraged to move towards developing their own policy on water safety. This is a key objective of the Scottish Drowning Prevention Strategy 2018-2026.
Scotland has an estimated 30,000 freshwater lochs and a huge coastline, giving residents and tourists considerable access to water.
The most recent data taken from the Water Incident Database (WAID) shows that there were 46 accidental drowning fatalities in Scotland and a further 26 water-related suicides in 2017. These statistics reflect the fact that Scotland’s rate of accidental drowning is also almost double the UK average.
Carlene McAvoy, community safety development manager at RoSPA, said: “At present, Scotland carries a disproportionate rate of accidental drowning fatalities in comparison to other areas within the UK. This is completely unacceptable and it is incumbent on us to act.
“I am encouraged by the discussions that have taken place with local authorities and look forward to continuing to work with our partners to take action to minimise the risk of drowning and other accidents in Scottish waters.”
Michael Avril, RNLI community safety partner for Scotland, said: “RNLI is delighted to have been able to facilitate today’s meeting with RoSPA and our partners in Scottish local government. I am confident we will all go forward today with a renewed sense of common purpose and be united in our efforts to prevent serious accidents and death and on Scotland’s coast and inland waters”.
The workshop follows the November release of a RoSPA a report entitled Local Authority Approaches to Managing Water Safety, which recommends that councils should share good practice and successes in water safety by joining Water Safety Scotland, a group of organisations from across the country dedicated to tackling drowning.
The report is the culmination of a study in which all 32 of Scotland’s local authorities were surveyed on their management of water safety.