More actions is being planned on water safety in York after 21 river fatalities in the last five years.
But while the number of deaths remains sadly high, there has been a significant change in the people who are entering the water.
This was revealed at a presentation by the fire service on water safety for the North Yorkshire Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner yesterday.
Andy Blades, head of York and Selby district at North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, told the meeting: “Over the past five years there has been a definite change in the York area specifically in the type of people we have been assisting.
“A few years ago, the profile was quite clear. It was young people, aged between 18 and 25, who were entering the water between 10pm and 3am, and usually on weekends.
“However, in the last three or four years, we’re starting to see a change in this profile. It is moving to an older age group.
“The issues are much more complex and are associated with mental health issues.”
Over the last five years, there have been 21 fatalities. But the average age of those who have died has increased from 26 in 2104 to 68 in 2021.
The multi-agency York Water Safety Forum was set up and has implemented a number of initiatives including:
- painting escape ladders orange to make them more visible
- installing signs at hotspots pointing people to the help offered by the Samaritans
- safety messaging given to students via the universities.
Also the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has been commissioned to conduct an independent report on improving safety on York’s rivers.
Given the number of incidents in York, more training was being carried out among firefighters in the city, the police commissioner heard.
That would allow them to enter the water and carry out a tethered swim, which would “improve the rescue capability for incidents in the Foss”.