Vandals throw lifebuoys into the river putting lives at risk

Vandals have thrown three lifebuoys into the river just weeks after they were installed in the latest in a long line of attacks on rescue equipment.

Friday, 21st June 2019, 3:00 pm
Updated Sunday, 23rd June 2019, 6:08 pm
Councillor John Kelly with some of the public rescue equipment near Wearmouth Bridge.
Councillor John Kelly with some of the public rescue equipment near Wearmouth Bridge.

Now, Sunderland Council is urging vandals to think how they would feel if it their families were unable to be rescued because of missing equipment.

Councillor John Kelly, Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture, spoke out just a week after three recently-installed lifebuoys were ripped off posts and thrown in the river.

He said: "I can think of nothing to explain this other than sheer wanton vandalism.

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"How anyone can vandalise equipment that is clearly designed to save lives is beyond me.

"I would call on those responsible to think how they would feel if their loved ones got into difficulties and drowned because the vital public rescue equipment that was there to rescue them had been stolen or damaged.”

The public are encouraged to report damage or theft of life buoys or other public rescue equipment to the police immediately.

The council has responded to 17 instances of missing or damaged public rescue equipment since the beginning of 2019. In 12 cases the equipment was taken from the site or thrown into the river.

The council set up a Water Safety Partnership in 2015 working closely with the RNLI, the Royal Lifesaving Society and ROSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) raising awareness of the dangers of swimming in open water with safety lessons for more than 150,000 children in primary schools since 1994.

Four years ago the council worked with friends of two schoolgirls who tragically died at Fatfield to make a DVD warning young people of the dangers of open water.

Up to nine RNLI lifeguards operate at three Sunderland beaches, seven days a week from May to September from 10am to 6pm.

A boat patrols from the River Wear to Fatfield, from Easter to September every weekend from 11am to 7pm giving safety advice.

There is signage and 41 lifebuoys along the city’s riverbanks with 14 along the seafront between Roker and the boundary with Whitburn.