Fences are of ‘limited use’: Results of river safety review revealed
Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ findings announced
An independent review on river safety for Durham has concluded that fences will be of “limited use in many areas” citing the “heritage and aesthetic” concerns.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents recommended a review of the University’s alcohol policy and public lighting, among other suggestions.
The River Safety Group refused to rule out the use of barriers, which the independent review cited as expensive, easy to get around, and of “limited use”.
The independent review found there was “no clear trend of the day of the week” for the recent river deaths.
Although alcohol was present or suspected in four out of five deaths, the “findings reflect national patterns for accidents and incidents.”
This is despite the review stating accidents involved mostly “temporary or recent visitors to the city.”
Durham City Council has been condemned by students after a campaign for river safety was seen as an attack on civil liberties.
Terry Collins, of the City Safety Group, commended student efforts to deal with river safety.
He claimed the Safety Group had to “find a balance” over river railings, something many students have called for in the light of three students drowning in the last 15 months.
Dan Slavin, the outgoing Durham Student Union President, said:”Personal responsibility is really important and we enforced that when students arrive at the University.
“I don’t like how this is seen as a ‘student issue’ when there are plenty of 18-24 year old’s in Durham, that aren’t students, drinking at that age.”
Representatives of the University on the River Safety Group praised the “sterling work” of the Student Union, promising “real and tangible” changes rather than any “knee-jerk” action.
The only area identified as “high risk” was Framwellgate Bridge to Mill House Weir, but no specific plans were outlined.
Within two weeks the River Safety Group will do walkabouts to consider the future changes.
Janis Penn, the fresher’s mum who has campaigned online for river safety, will be involved with the latest river safety efforts.
More lighting was called problematic, as it might encourage people to visit these lit areas, while moving rescue equipment “to be centralised at key locations” was noted as a suggestion.