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Police warning after 'tombstoning' reports
TOMBSTONING is irresponsible, dangerous and really not worth the risk' - that's the message from police, coastguards and traders after reports of thrill seekers risking their lives jumping off the East Pier at West Bay.
Young thrillseekers have been putting their lives at risk by jumping into the sea from a great height - often from the top of cliffs.
Recently, there have been reports of youngsters jumping off the East pier at West Bay, narrowly missing boats coming in and out of Bridport Harbour.
PC Scott McGregor of Bridport Police said: “We have had several reports over the last few months, where concerns have been raised by the public about the activity of people jumping off the pier at West Bay.
“On one occasion colleagues attended to prevent individuals from putting themselves and boat users in the harbour at risk.
“The simple message is that it's really not worth the risk and those who do it run the risk of paralysing or seriously injuring themselves.
“It's a fine line between hijinks at the waters edge and jumping into the water itself.
“We feel it is a neccessity to highlight the dangers and urge members of the public to report any tombstoning activity they see to the coastguard immediately.”
Figures from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency show that in the past five years, seven people have been badly hurt from tombstoning in Dorset.
In 2013, a man suffered back, pelvis and wrist injuries after slipping from the Town Bridge in Weymouth.
A 75-year-old man jumped 80ft from Durdle Door, suffered severe abdominal pains and had to be airlifted to Dorset County Hospital in 2010.
And in 2007 a man in his 20s was injured after jumping 100ft into the sea from Durdle Door, and another youngster shattered his leg after jumping off a pole near Portland Castle in the same year.
Other incidents have led to neck, head and spine injuries.
West Bay trader Christophe Dupuy of The George pub, said the implications of tombstoning do not just relate to those doing the jumping.
He added: “It's not just those involved who tombstoning causes problems for, it's also all the organisations that have to clean up after them.
“The police, coastguards and the RNLI; all those services cost money and organisation members put themselves at risk because of someone else's stupidity.
“I know we are a nation of adrenaline junkies and we all crave excitement but tombstoning is not the way to go, it's ridiculous and frankly quite stupid.
“With the cliffs as unstable as they are, they could go at any time and people need to listen to the warnings.”
Tombstoning can be dangerous for a number of reasons: water depth alters with the tide and it may be shallower than it seems, submerged objects like rocks may not be visible, the shock of cold water may make it difficult to swim and strong currents can rapidly sweep people away.
Nic Lonsdale, Duty Watch Manager for Portland Coastguard, said: “Jumping from piers, cliffs, rocks or other structures into the sea can be very dangerous.
“What was a deep pool at lunchtime might be a shallow puddle by teatime due to tidal conditions and you do not know what other hazards might be under the surface.”
He added that according to the Coastguard database, since 2005 there have been 20 deaths and 76 serious injuries caused by tombstoning in the UK.
Cllr Robert Gould, Leader of West Dorset District Council, said: “Bridport has a very active harbour with boats moving in and out on a regular basis, we strongly advise people against this activity as it is both irresponsible and potentially dangerous.”
To report a dangerous incident along the coastline, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.