Court action and £1,000 fines for swimmers who ignore water safety signs
PUBLISHED: 11:54 27 July 2019 | UPDATED: 12:11 27 July 2019
People who ignore water safety warning signs this summer could face court action and fines of up to £1,000, a government agency has said.
The Environment Agency (EA), has reminded the public ignoring signs warning against swimming could be a criminal offence, as well posing a risk to people's lives.
The agency's guidance comes just days after two brothers who got into difficulties swimming at a Norfolk beauty spot were rescued by four teenage girls who spotted them struggling in the water at Horstead Mill.
The agency maintains assets including weirs, sluices, locks and pumping stations across the UK and in East Anglia, and has urged people looking to cool off in the water to take safety seriously.
Jumping or diving off these structures is strictly prohibited.
The agency's structures carry warning signs outlining that strong currents, underwater structures and sudden changes in depths all pose serious risks to even most experienced swimmers.
Those who ignore the warnings are not only potentially putting their lives at risk, but could be committing an offence leading to a day in court and a £1,000 fine.
EA waterways team leader, Paul Separovic, said: "In partnership with councils and landowners, we work to advise on safety risks connected with river structures.
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"We look after many structures that keep our waterways safe, our navigation channels clear and our properties protected from floods.
"It is important people know how to stay safe around these structures while enjoying being around water this summer."
The EA's guidelines for water safety include:
- Don't be tempted to jump from structures - dangerous objects could be hidden beneath the surface and cause injury or even death;
- Use designated crossings only - don't be tempted to walk across weirs, as the fast-flowing water will knock you over;
- Keep safe by reading the information boards around navigational locks;
- And always pay attention to warning signs.
For further details about the dangers of wild swimming, follow guidance from Public Health England, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the Royal National Lifeboats Institute.
If you spot someone jumping off of, swimming close to or damaging EA structures, report it - call 0800 80 70 60.