TEENAGERS have been spotted tombstoning at West Bay - and were even seen jumping off piers during a powerboat racing event.

According to the coastguard, there has been a large increase in tombstoning - the act of jumping from cliffs, piers, rocks and harbour walls into the water - over the past few weeks and large groups of teenagers have been seen jumping off East Pier into the harbour, swimming across the waterway onto the pontoons.

Lifeguards had a busy day on Saturday dealing with teenagers who were jumping off the piers then swimming across the harbour entrance during the West Bay powerboat racing.

There are clear signs at West Bay warning of the dangers of jumping off the piers, yet harbour staff, RNLI lifeguards and coastguard officers have all had to respond to incidents over the past few weeks, the coastguard said.

A spokesman for West Bay Coastguard Rescue Team said: "'But it’s just kids being kids’ is a phrase that is often thrown back at us, so we thought we would throw some facts and figures out there, and let you decide if this is an activity you would like your family and friends taking part in.

"In recent years, the coastguard has responded to more than 200 tombstoning incidents. Out of those, 70 people have suffered injuries, some of them life-changing, and a further 20 people have lost their lives. Of those who were injured, the youngest was only 12, and the oldest was 45.

"The coastguard does not want to ruin anyone’s fun but the reality is that jumping off the piers at West Bay is simply just not safe. Water depth alters constantly with the tide and the water may be a lot shallower than it seems. The build-up of sand, rocks and debris may not be visible from above and strong currents can easily sweep you away not to mention the risk to and from harbour traffic. The sudden shock of cold water immersion can make swimming treacherous, as can swimming under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

"Is jumping into the unknown really worth the risk?"

The spokesman added: "Have a glorious summer but if you find yourself in difficulty, or if you see something which gives you cause for concern, dial 999 and ask for the coastguard."

For more safety information, visit gov.uk/coastguardsafety