Image - lbrut-jumping-thames

Jumping in the Thames is NOT a safe way to cool off, says Council and emergency services

People are being warned not to gamble with their lives by jumping into or swimming in the Thames.

Groups of young people - many under the influence alcohol - are congregating on banks of the River, particularly in the Teddington area of the borough. They are putting themselves at risk by jumping into the Thames.

The area of the Thames upstream of Teddington Lock is under the jurisdiction of the Environment Agency, with the rest of the river under the responsibility of the Port of London Authority. The Council has received reassurances from both agencies that they are working hard to educate and stop people jumping into the water or using inflatable dingys or paddleboards.

However, both Richmond Council, local Police and Fire Brigade are becoming very concerned about the situation, as the currents in the river can be deceptively strong.

Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of the Council, said:

“Chances are the people who are jumping in the Thames never read Council press releases - but their parents might. If you have children or young adults living with you then please talk to them about the dangers of jumping in the river. You have the drug and sex talk - this is just as important.

“Some parts of the Thames are very deep and bodies of water stay cold whatever the weather. It is very easy to get into trouble and drown.

“People who have been drinking lose their inhibitions and decide to swim in the river against their better judgement. Please talk to your children and tell them not to be tempted to cool off during the warm weather, it is extremely dangerous and they should avoid it at all costs. Also, actions like this put huge pressure on the emergency services who are extremely stretched already due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Chief Inspector Hackett-Peacock, from Richmond Police, said:

“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 the day by the river. Last weekend we received numerous reports of overcrowding and ASB. We are still in a pandemic and appropriate social distancing measures should be taken. We also do not tolerate ASB and will enforce a dispersal zone if proportionate and necessary. Therefore, please be sensible. Don’t enter the water and be respectful of others.”

John Snelgrove, from London Fire Brigade, added:

“We do understand the attraction of jumping in open water, especially at this time when everyone is spending more time at home, but we need people to understand just how easy it is to get into difficulty.

“There is the risk of cold water shock, which can cause your body to go into shock no matter how fit you are. It causes panic, anxiety, disorientation and loss of muscular control, which cause you to gasp for air and as a result, inhale water.

“We would also urge people never to drink alcohol and then go swimming, or attempt to jump into water. You should avoid walking or running near water on your own or late at night as it’s easier than you think to slip and fall in.

“We’re not trying to scaremonger or spoil people’s enjoyment of the summer - but there is a very real risk when it comes to London’s canals, waterways and The Thames.”

– from a Richmond Council press release - 1 July 2020