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Petition Mark Allen's Law - we want throwline stations around all bodies of open water

Mark Allen, aged 18, drowned after jumping into a freezing reservoir on a hot day in June 2018.

In May 2019 we watched whilst 3 throwlines were installed where he died.

Mark could have possibly been saved if they were in place beforehand.

More details

We, Mark’s family and friends, feel that the Government should require by law that throwlines are placed in designated places around every reservoir, Lake, canal etc.

Speaking to people who work in water safety (fire services etc) such throwlines have saved many lives.

We want to save lives and save people from going through the heartbreak and tragedy of losing someone they love to drowning.

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Parliament considers all petitions that get more than 100,000 signatures for a debate

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Government responded

This response was given on 1 July 2021

This tragic loss of life highlights the importance of landowner's responsibility to assess and act on the risks posed by open bodies of water on their land.

Read the response in full

Accidental drowning is a terrible tragedy for the victim and their families and highlights the importance of everyone being aware of the risks posed by water. The risks posed by open bodies of water should be assessed and acted on by the responsible landowner.

The majority of reservoirs are owned by the major water companies. The Environment Agency manages rivers and the Canal and Rivers Trust manage the canal network and all have a responsibility to ensure these are safe.

Local authorities will be responsible for a minority of bodies of water, including some beaches, and as a result the Local Government Association (LGA) has produced a water safety toolkit for councils, to ensure both locals and visitors enjoy the natural environment safely whether on the coast or inland.

It shows the importance of everyone being aware of the risks posed by water. This toolkit suggests a number of ways councils might seek to work in partnership to tackle water safety in their area. Councils want communities to enjoy open spaces and leisure facilities in their areas and to ensure that both locals and visitors enjoy the natural environment safely. This toolkit is to help councils create a partnership and plan to do that. Details of the toolkit can be found here: https://www.local.gov.uk/topics/community-safety/water-safety-toolkit

The LGA first produced a water safety toolkit for councils in 2017. They have since updated the toolkit, drawing on the Royal Life Saving Society’s (RLSS) work on creating a water safety action group and local water safety plan and their previous work.

Their document, A practical implementation guide to setting up a Water Safety Action Group and designing a local Water Safety Plan, can be found on their website (https://www.rlss.org.uk/) and provides a comprehensive look at these issues. This toolkit provides an overview of the steps councils should consider when looking at water safety in their local area.

Employers and the self-employed, whose undertaking includes work activity close to open water, are required under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, to take steps to prevent employees and other people from coming to harm due to their work activities.

The methods of achieving this are not set down in law and may differ depending on the particular characteristics of the site and the circumstances. For example, a perimeter wall or fence around an irrigation reservoir or slurry pit will help to control risks. However where open access to water is encouraged for leisure purposes controls might, depending on the circumstances, include the provision of throwlines or other rescue devices, as part of a range of measures, recognising the advantages and disadvantages of providing such devices in terms of their limited effectiveness when used by untrained people, and the ongoing requirement for monitoring and maintenance.

Much of the open water throughout Great Britain while often used for recreational purposes, is not associated with ongoing work activity that comes under remit of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act, and as such, even if they were deemed appropriate at all locations, throwlines could not be made mandatory under Health and Safety legislation.

In terms of public safety at sea and at our coasts, Her Majesty’s Coastguard, part of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, will coordinate rescue missions, at these locations, drawing on a matrix of available search and rescue resources including lifeboats, helicopters and volunteer Coastguard Rescue Teams, and vessels in close proximity of an incident.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

Other parliamentary business

Petitions Committee write to the Government regarding overdue response

The Petitions Committee, the group of MPs who consider e-petitions, have written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick MP, regarding the overdue Government response for this e-petition.

Government departments are meant to submit a response within 14-21 days. A response to this petition was first requested on 6 May, but the response to this petition is still awaited. Because this response is now several weeks overdue the Committee agreed to write to the Government to ask for an explanation of the delay to responding to this petition.

You can read the full letter here: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/6511/documents/70741/default/

In the letter, the Petitions Committee express the importance of petitioners receiving a prompt response from Government departments if their petition reaches over 10,000 signatures and asks the Minister to provide a response to the petition, and an explanation of the delay, by Friday 9 July.

Government responds to petition calling for throwline stations around open bodies of water

The Government has provided the overdue response to this petition, "Mark Allen's Law - we want throwline stations around all bodies of open water".

Government response to "Mark Allen's Law - we want throwline stations around all bodies of open water"

This tragic loss of life highlights the importance of landowner's responsibility to assess and act on the risks posed by open bodies of water on their land.

Accidental drowning is a terrible tragedy for the victim and their families and highlights the importance of everyone being aware of the risks posed by water. The risks posed by open bodies of water should be assessed and acted on by the responsible landowner.

The majority of reservoirs are owned by the major water companies. The Environment Agency manages rivers and the Canal and Rivers Trust manage the canal network and all have a responsibility to ensure these are safe.

Local authorities will be responsible for a minority of bodies of water, including some beaches, and as a result the Local Government Association (LGA) has produced a water safety toolkit for councils, to ensure both locals and visitors enjoy the natural environment safely whether on the coast or inland.

It shows the importance of everyone being aware of the risks posed by water. This toolkit suggests a number of ways councils might seek to work in partnership to tackle water safety in their area. Councils want communities to enjoy open spaces and leisure facilities in their areas and to ensure that both locals and visitors enjoy the natural environment safely. This toolkit is to help councils create a partnership and plan to do that. Details of the toolkit can be found here: https://www.local.gov.uk/topics/community-safety/water-safety-toolkit

The LGA first produced a water safety toolkit for councils in 2017. They have since updated the toolkit, drawing on the Royal Life Saving Society’s (RLSS) work on creating a water safety action group and local water safety plan and their previous work.

Their document, A practical implementation guide to setting up a Water Safety Action Group and designing a local Water Safety Plan, can be found on their website (https://www.rlss.org.uk/) and provides a comprehensive look at these issues. This toolkit provides an overview of the steps councils should consider when looking at water safety in their local area.

Employers and the self-employed, whose undertaking includes work activity close to open water, are required under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, to take steps to prevent employees and other people from coming to harm due to their work activities.

The methods of achieving this are not set down in law and may differ depending on the particular characteristics of the site and the circumstances. For example, a perimeter wall or fence around an irrigation reservoir or slurry pit will help to control risks. However where open access to water is encouraged for leisure purposes controls might, depending on the circumstances, include the provision of throwlines or other rescue devices, as part of a range of measures, recognising the advantages and disadvantages of providing such devices in terms of their limited effectiveness when used by untrained people, and the ongoing requirement for monitoring and maintenance.

Much of the open water throughout Great Britain while often used for recreational purposes, is not associated with ongoing work activity that comes under remit of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act, and as such, even if they were deemed appropriate at all locations, throwlines could not be made mandatory under Health and Safety legislation.

In terms of public safety at sea and at our coasts, Her Majesty’s Coastguard, part of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, will coordinate rescue missions, at these locations, drawing on a matrix of available search and rescue resources including lifeboats, helicopters and volunteer Coastguard Rescue Teams, and vessels in close proximity of an incident.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

Minister explains delay responding to this petition

Last week the Petitions Committee wrote the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government asking the Secretary of State to provide a response to this petition, and an explanation of the delay in responding.

You can read the Petitions Committee's letter to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government here: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/6511/documents/70741/default/

The Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government has replied to the Committee's letter, stating this is not a subject that falls within the purview of the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, but that the department has sought to provide a reply on this issue drawing on input from across government including those departments with specific responsibilities for some of these issue.

You can read the Minister's reply to the Committee's correspondence here: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/6561/documents/71028/default/

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