“We will tackle reckless riverside behaviour”, says Council Leader

Release Date: 22 July 2020

Cllr Gareth Roberts has met with ward councillors, the local Police and representatives from the Environment Agency to discuss what more can be done to clamp down on dangerous riverside behaviour along the Thames.

At the meeting, all agreed that more action was needed to tackle the problem of those who risk their lives, and put additional pressure on emergency services and the NHS, by jumping from structures such as bridges into the river.

Cllr Roberts, said:

"Jumping into the river from bridges and other structures may look like harmless fun but it could be deadly.

"Even the strongest swimmers get into trouble; currents prove too strong, cold-water shock can weaken muscles and send the heart into abnormal rhythms and hidden dangers are lurking just below the surface. Jumping in is not worth the risk.

"In recent weeks we have had reports of up to 200 people jumping into the river and this puts a stress on the police services and the RNLI. When the NHS is stretched to breaking point they don’t need this as well.

"This needs to stop. We are committed to tackling this problem in partnership with the Environment Agency and the Police. And we need parents to tell their children about the risks they are taking. We all have a role to play in putting a stop to this reckless behaviour."

Together with the Police and the Environment Agency, they have agreed to:

  • Have consideration for improved signage on the bridges and towpaths
  • Have a greater clarity on the law – to determine whether a bylaw can be used to enforce this behaviour
  • Investigate the possibility of installing CCTV 

Inspector Robinson, Neighbourhood Ward inspector from Richmond Police, added:

"Our officers and the RNLI are no stranger to responding to emergencies in the river Thames. We urge all parents and guardians to impress on young people the hidden dangers of the Thames. Whilst the water may look inviting in warm weather, people of any age can get into difficulty due to the undercurrents.

"In addition to water safety, we are also asking for people to think twice before spending a hot day by the river. Last weekend we received numerous reports of overcrowding and antisocial behaviour. We are still in a pandemic and appropriate social distancing measures should be taken. We also do not tolerate antisocial behaviour and will enforce a dispersal zone if proportionate and necessary. Therefore, please be sensible. Don’t enter the water and be respectful of others".

Notes for editors

If you are a journalist and would like further information about this press release, contact Fenna Maynard on 020 8487 5182.

Reference: 293/20

Updated: 30 July 2020