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Lancashire Police issues serious warning over dangers of swimming in open water

Written by on June 2, 2020

Police have issued an urgent warning not to swim in Lancashire reservoirs and lakes during the current heatwave after reports of people trying to cool off popular beauty spots.

It comes after officers received reports of people gathering at reservoirs around Darwen and Rivington and at Appley Bridge Quarry near Skelmersdale.

‘Shocking’ pictures were released by United Utilities on Friday (May 29) showing the extent of people ignoring life-preserving social distancing and ‘no swimming’ advice.

They showed children and older youths risking their lives by plunging into icy waters as lockdown measures start to ease, with United Utilities reporting ‘dozens of cases’.

Police have issued several dispersal orders in recent weeks to stop people gathering at Appley Bridge.

In a statement released today (June 2), the force is urging everyone, particularly young people, not to swim in reservoirs or quarries or set camp fires or barbecues in the open land around them. 

Inspector Helen Dixon said the warning is particularly important if anyone has been drinking alcohol or taking drugs.

She said: “The easing of lockdown restrictions combined with the recent sunshine and hot weather has resulted in a substantial number of people travelling to quarries and reservoirs to swim, with some also lighting campfires and barbeques in the dry woodland.

“Swimming in private quarries and reservoirs constitutes trespass but what we really want to get across is that it is not safe. 

“Even though the weather is hot, the water can be really cold and cold water shock, injuries on hidden objects under the water and drowning are all very real possibilities. 

“Over the years a number of young people have tragically died whilst swimming in open water in Lancashire and we want to let young people know that the risks are very real and whilst the water may seem appealing, it is incredibly dangerous.

“Every summer we issue these warnings, yet tragically people still lose their lives through swimming where they shouldn’t, bringing heartbreak to loved ones.

“This is completely avoidable, and we would ask the public to please stay away from open water. 

“I would also remind everyone that gatherings of more than six people are prohibited under the current COVID government regulations. 

“These regulations are there to prevent the spread of the virus and the risk of a second peak and it’s incumbent on every one of us to do our bit to keep people across Lancashire safe. 

“We will always engage with people and explain these rules but we will enforce them where we really need to.”

Officers are also continuing to investigate fires started in Worden Park, Leyland.

Meanwhile Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service has released numerous pleas not to light fires or use disposable barbecues out in the open, especially on moors and in woodland areas. 

This comes as they continue to tackle wildfires on the moors above Darwen and damp down at Longridge Fell.

Inspector Dixon added: “Safety at this time of year is vital, and we want to be clear that we will investigate if we believe fires have been started deliberately. 

“We’d urge people to heed the Fire Service’s messages and spare a thought for the people who live near the affected areas and also the firefighters who are working round the clock to tackle these blazes. 

“Please never set campfires or use disposal barbecues outside – the risks at this time of year are just to great and it only takes one stray spark to cause a huge fire.

“Let’s all work together to stay safe and enjoy the warm weather, taking care of friends and family whilst maintaining the two metres social distancing from those you don’t live with.”