'Take care and be responsible': Sightings of people swimming in open water sparks urgent warning from Lancashire Police

A serious warning not to swim in open water has been issued by police after groups of people were spotted gathering at reservoirs around Lancashire.

By Sean Gleaves
Tuesday, 2nd June 2020, 3:44 pm

Groups of people have been seen gathering at reservoirs around Darwen and Rivington and at Appley Bridge Quarry near Skelmersdale in recent days, resulting in police issuing an urgent warning to "take care and be responsible around open water".

The number of people gathering at Appley Bridge led to officers putting a Dispersal Order in place for a number of hours.

A "stark" danger warning was also issued by United Utilities after they recorded "dozens of cases of people jumping into reservoirs and refusing to respond to requests to adhere to well-signposted guidance."

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"Shocking" pictures taken at Worthington Lakes, near Chorley, and at Alance Bridge, at Yarrow reservoir, near Rivington, show children and older youths risking their lives by plunging into icy waters as lockdown measures start to ease.

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

Insp Helen Dixon said: "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.

Youngsters ignore locked gates at Worthington Lakes, near Wigan.

"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."

Officers would also like to remind everyone that gatherings of more than six people are prohibited under the current Covid-19 government regulations.

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

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.

Families at Worthington Lakes, near Wigan. (Credit: United Utilities)

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

Insp 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."

People were caught jumping off a bridge and into the water at Yarrow reservoir in Rivington. (Credit: United Utilities)

Why is it dangerous to swim in reservoirs?

Reservoirs may look inviting, especially on a hot day, but they are about the worst possible places to take a swim, according to United Utilities:

- The water never really gets above 11°C, there’s hidden machinery and there’s no lifeguard on duty

- Reservoirs are often in isolated places

- There may be hidden currents

- There may be hidden obstacles beneath the surface

- It may be difficult to get out

- There might be blue green algae in the water

To find out more about reservoir safety, click HERE.

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