Labour councillors have tabled a motion due to be heard at the meeting of the Full Council on the 2 March 2022 calling on the Secretary of State for Justice to make it a specific offence to destroy or damage life saving equipment.
Alarmingly, there is currently no specific legal provision which prohibits interfering with and damage to lifesaving equipment such as life belts and throw lines. National practice has therefore emerged housing them behind keypad locks for safety, which can cause critical delays in releasing the equipment.
Around 400 people needlessly drown in the UK every year and thousands more suffer injury, some life changing, through near-drowning experiences.
In May last year, Ulley Reservoir saw the tragic deaths of 16-year-old Samuel Haycock and just a few months later in September, that of 19-year-old Khizar Hayat.
Cllr Dave Sheppard, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, said that:
“In any emergency, time is critical and every second of delay worsens the chances of a positive outcome. Last year, two young men tragically lost their lives after getting into difficulty in the water at Ulley Reservoir.
As with all our open water sites, lifesaving equipment is in place but kept behind a keypad lock for security, which requires a telephone call to obtain the code to release the lock.
We therefore call upon the government to implement legislation to make it a specific offense to destroy or damage lifesaving equipment, enabling suitable equipment to be instantly available in times of emergency.”
The motion contains a further commitment for the council to work alongside the Haycock family and all other key partners to continue to raise awareness of the dangers of open water.
- The full text of the motion may be found here
- For media enquiries, contact Rotherham Labour Group Communications officer Amy Brookes by email: email@example.com