National Water Safety Forum


March newsletter from the National Water Safety Forum



Message from the Chairman


This week, people across the country gathered together to mark the anniversary of the first UK-wide lockdown. We all remember the panic, fear and uncertainty that characterised the days and weeks leading up to Monday March 23 2020.

Since then, more than 125,000 of our fellow citizens have lost their lives due to the coronavirus. I  am sure I speak for everyone in the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) when I say that our thoughts are with those who have lost a loved one to this terrible disease and we will continue to do our bit to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

It is in the spirit of preserving life and protecting the public that our mission endures. I know that all organisations within the NWSF are preparing for when restrictions are lifted and we may well, yet again, see record numbers of visitors at our inland and coastal waters. I look forward to hearing about our members' dynamic campaigns and live-saving activities as we move towards the summer. We have held initial briefing sessions for a more unified water safety campaigns and messaging effort under the banner of 'Respect The Water', which the RNLI has kindly released to the NWSF and its members.

I have now submitted the NWSF's consultation report concerning the 'Review of Legal Responsibility for Beach Safety'. It will be considered by the Minister for Aviation and Maritime, Robert Courts MP, and it forms a part of the Government's wider consultation. My aim is to publish it on the NWSF website in due course, but in the mean-time I remain very grateful for the excellent range of responses i received from members.

To turn to another milestone, the National Water Safety Newsletter, which you are reading now, is celebrating its first birthday this month. We always welcome content and ideas from our members.

If you have any suggestions or feedback do not hesitate to send an email to

Until next time,

George Rawlinson
National Water Safety Forum


Reminder: WAID Dashboard

View the new interactive report, which allows users to visualise water-related incidents by local authority area, as well as explore how demographic factors, such as age and gender, impact on accidental drowning and unintentional entry into open water.

The interactive report contains information relating to UK water incidents that were reported between 2014-2019.


'Respect the Water' workshops

The RNLI has kindly agreed to host a workshop with their marketing and water safety teams to talk you through developments, share some new resources and offer a question and answer session. The ideal audience will be members of the forums coordinating group and relevant members of your communications or marketing teams. It will cover:

Respect the water brand guidelines
Principle of use
Future support

Look out for further details.


Reporting back: Coastal Working Group


Earlier this month, the National Water Safety Forum’s Coastal Group met virtually for the first time this year.

The focus of the meeting was on preparations for coastal safety this summer. It’s predicted that there will be record numbers of visitors at the coast this year as the weather improves and lockdown restrictions ease.

Members discussed preventative strategies and the work that has been done so far, sharing updates and future proposals:

Joint communications

This included ideas on how members can join forces and spread joint safety messages far and wide to both coastal and inland audiences to maximise reach. The key messages will include top tips and safety advice on how to stay safe at the coast together with the call 999 Coastguard emergency message.

Letter to beach owners and local authorities

The RNLI and HM Coastguard reported back on a recent collaboration. The organisations have shared a letter with beach owners and local authorities providing data and information to help support safety measures, preparations, risk assessments and planning.

Policing contributing to coastal safety

Following a presentation by Inspector Adrian Woon from Devon and Cornwall Police and his colleague Sergeant Andy Mulhern, who leads on the police led Coast Safe campaign, the group explored how policing can help push safety messages and drowning prevention activity, as well as the role they may play on a national level looking ahead.

The working group will meet again in May and will report back.


Water Safety Scotland update


Water Safety Scotland's Steering Group are currently re-invigorating subgroups with the view ahead after lockdown. Our Education Subgroup is back up and running and the Recreational Subgroup has its first meeting late in March.

The Data Subgroup have started to draft up a process for a voluntary drowning fatality review following incidents. It will be based on the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) case conferences.

The  ‘Respect The Water’ banner and unified communications campaign is a positive step for the UK and Scotland. The WSS steering group have agreed its use and all members have had time to feedback. Water Safety Scotland officially endorses the campaign.


RoSPA welcomes new Leisure Safety Manager


The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has appointed a new Leisure Safety Manager, Carlene McAvoy, who will promote safe, healthy and active lifestyles as part of her work.
Carlene brings a wealth of experience to role having being at the forefront of developing water safety policy in Scotland for many years. Carlene founded Water Safety Scotland and was a key author on Scotland’s Drowning Prevention Strategy – two major milestones for Scotland.
Prior to her most recent appointment, Carlene McAvoy was employed by RoSPA as a Community Safety Development Manager (Scotland) where her brief covered accident prevention in the home and water activities so will be familiar face to many at the National Water Safety Forum.

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