National Water Safety Forum


From SafeTrx to beach surveillance: lifesaving collaboration


On Wednesday 16th October, the Coastal Advisory Group met in London to share potentially lifesaving initiatives and action. Members presented on their current activities related to coastal safety and identified ways to offer mutual support in such endeavours: ultimately to help save lives.

Attendees in the room included representatives from: RoSPA, Porthcawl Surf School, National Trust, RYA, RNLI, MCA, NCI, Swim England, Local Government Association, DWF Law LLP and the Harbour Master from Tees and Hartlepool, and Associated British Ports Southampton.

 Just some of the highlights include:

  • Beach webcam saving lives in Porthcawl
  • RYA SafeTrx – functionality and spreading the word
  • Supporting the Swim Safe educational programme
  • The MCA on beach safety and legal responsibility – continued
  • The RNLI’s coastal risk management app – continued
  • The MCA on suicide prevention strategy and updates from WAID

Coastal camera system in Porthcawl

Hugh Murray from Porthcawl Surf School talked about the success of a coastal camera system fitted at Rest Bay beach. The cameras have been installed as an operational asset to fill the gap outside of the Lifeguard season/hours, and can capture angles not visible from the shore, for example, where rocks or cliff corners obstruct the view of the water. The system is monitored in day light hours and when incidents are called in, the NCI and HM Coastguard have access so they can monitor the incident in real time, launch rescue units where needed or indeed stand down in cases of self-rescue. Lives have been saved and call outs reduced, which poses the question as to whether this pilot is something that could be used more widely along the coast in the future.

RYA SafeTrx

Andrew Norton from the RYA shared the latest functionality and plans for SafeTrx, looking at Coastguard incident data showing how often the alert function has been used, recent promotional campaigns at Southampton Boat Show and how the group can help spread the word to all recreational water users about the free app. Through respective organisations/channels, the group will continue to encourage recreational water users to get the app and a space has been reserved at the National Water Conference to showcase the app to the attendees via the VR SafeTrx experience.

Self-rescue skills with Swim Safe

Ashley Jones from Swim England and the RNLI presented on the educational programme for 7-14 years. The free 45 mins sessions teach invaluable skills and key messaging to get children safe for swimming in open water. The sessions take place every summer at inland and coastal sites throughout the UK, and the group have agreed to work together to expand potential sites so more sessions can be held, and make the difference to more young lives.

The next stop for the forum is the Water Safety Conference in November where over 100 organisations/representatives will be joined by our Maritime Minister, Nusrat Ghani MP.


Written by Rachael Phelps: Maritime and Coastguard Agency

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