National Water Safety Forum



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NWSF Newsletter - December 2022


Message from the Chair

I can’t quite believe its December; 2022 has certainly been a busy one for everyone involved with the NWSF and water safety.

We have had great success in securing additional funding to formally support the launch of Respect The Water as a collaborative campaign which had a significant reach (see campaign report further down). A great deal of work has seen the completion and publication of the annual drowning fatality report in May. A collaborative effort in education has been helped by the efforts of several parents. Colleagues have been in discussion with the Department of Education about the drafting of a core lesson plan on water safety which could be used in schools. There was fantastic support for World Drowning Prevention Day in UK with lots of landmark buildings going blue, also behind the scenes many meetings and collaborative efforts addressed the impacts of extreme dry and hot weather during six weeks in the summer. There has also been significant progress with our new WAID 2 data project which will be a game changer for next year in terms of data quality and capture.

As I write this the World Cup is on, also companies and clubs and students are planning their Christmas parties. Whilst we all want to wish everyone a “Merry Christmas”, we urge people to do so away from waterside locations where safety could be compromised. The Royal Lifesaving Society’s annual seasonal campaign reminds us all about the risk of drinking and drowning and calls on people to “Be a mate” and ensure everyone gets home safely after a night out celebrating.

Who knows exactly what 2023 will have in store? We know that post-COVID and with pools closing due to utility inflation that we will have a generation who have had less opportunity to learn to swim. At the same time, we predict the continued growth in open water and water sports.

Finally, one thing I do know is that we remain reliant on your hard work, collaborative support and pulling together to ensure that drowning prevention and enjoying the water safely remains front and centre of our work, with a determined focus on continuing to ensure we drive down deaths and injuries in water.

Dawn Whittaker

NWSF Chair






We are now in the third week of the Royal Life Saving Society UK’s (RLSS UK) #DontDrinkandDrown campaign.

There is one more week to go to keep sharing the vital water safety messages to ensure everyone stays safe during these winter months.

As we continue to see work Christmas parties and friends and families gather in bars and pubs - as well as football fans enjoying the FIFA World Cup - we need to ensure that the key messaging and safety advice remains front of mind.


We encourage everyone to #BeAMate and ensure you and your friends find a safe route home away from the water after drinking.

On average 80 people lose their lives each year as a result of a substance-related drowning. RLSS UK have lots of free downloadable resources on their website, which we would encourage you to use so that together we can ensure everyone returns home safely.

RLSS UK would like to thank those who have supported the campaign so far.




WAID Update


The Water Incident Database (WAID) is a service developed by the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) to bring together water-related incident data from a wide range of sources within the UK. It acts as a single repository for the capture of and reporting on fatal water incidents.

Taking the basis of the current system, WAID 2 will build on the good work that has come before with the new platform providing increased automation, a richer dataset, and the timelier capture of incident details.This allows quicker and deeper insights to be made to further improve drowning prevention activities.


The project to implement the new system is currently nearing completion of its second phase with work under way to build a new front-end application and to complete the automated data pipelines.

The new App will help improve the manual incident capture process which will now be complemented by automated data feeds which bring-in incident data directly from the bigger data provider’s systems.


As we move into 2023, we intend to start the transition to the new system, build new datasets, dashboards and insights with monthly assured reporting to complement the current annually published data.

Keep your eyes peeled for further updates.


Looking back at 2022


There has been so much going on over the past 12 months as the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) continues working with partners in drowning prevention.



Respect The Water Campaign

One of the major highlights of 2022 was the launch of the Respect the Water 999 campaign this summer, which was the largest ever collaborative UK water safety campaign.

Through national media coverage across TV and radio, the NWSF were able to ‘break the echo chamber’ with this powerful campaign. Launched on World Drowning Prevention Day (WDPD), in response to WHO’s invitation to ‘do one thing’ to prevent drowning, the NWSF even featured in the WHO’s roundup in their webinar on July 27.


Through the RTW 999 campaign and with the strength of the NWSF’s powerful networks, over 25 locations lit up blue in support of WDPD.

With dedication, passion and focus, the NWSF and its members, look forward to continuing this great work in drowning prevention in 2023 and beyond.

Respect The Water report here




Forward Planning

The Forum have been working hard to put together a plan of forward actions to help us in our concentrated efforts in drowning prevention.

The first of these actions is the launch of the NWSF Workplan, which will guide the Coordinating and Advisory Groups in line with the Drowning Prevention Strategy. The second is the Advocacy Plan, which will coordinate the work of the Forum with external partners and other bodies.


Water Safety Scotland

Water Safety Scotland released the Interim Review of Scotland’s Drowning Prevention Strategy in March 2022.

An impressive amount of work has been undertaken in the last four years by WSS and its members including new education resources to ensure water safety lessons are available for teachers to use across every curriculum level in Scotland.


Additionally, the voluntary Drowning and Incident Review (DIR) process for accidental water-related fatalities in Scotland has been developed after many months of research and planning, with the anticipated launch date of March 2023.


Read the review here



Water Safety Wales

Water Safety Wales has facilitated a Families Group working with families affected by drowning over the last 18-24 months. Leeanne Bartley, a member of the families group who lost her son Mark to drowning, has had significant success with her petition to Welsh Government on drowning prevention.

The Petitions Committee report published in August made six helpful recommendations. Last week the Welsh Government published its response to those recommendations and accepted five and accepted one in principle. The full response is here.

WSW are delighted that the next stage of this process is a full debate in the Senedd (Welsh Parliament) on December 7th on the issues raised in the report and Water Safety Wales is working with Leeanne and Members of the Senedd to ensure that opportunity is taken to the fullest extent possible. We will share details of the debate on December 7th when the agenda is published. Our thanks go to Leeanne and her family for their work in getting to this stage.




Celebrate and Stay Safe


It’s the end of the year and for many of us December is a season of celebration. It’s a time to get together with friends, loved ones and let’s not forget all-singing and dancing Christmas parties! Whether it's after-work drinks, family events or fun nights out, messages of staying safe and being aware of your water surroundings are important.

We encourage this time of Christmas festivities to be enjoyed with awareness to avoid potential water incidents.


Looking out for friends, family and colleagues is something we all can do at social events and celebrations.

Simple planning ahead such as booking a taxi home, letting someone know where you’re going and avoiding walking home alone at night by rivers and canals are simple safety measures to ensure the high spirits of the season lead to a safe festive season for all.

We hope you share these safety messages with your friends, loved ones and networks to ensure a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. 


Job Vacancy

Community Safety Policy Lead - Civil Service Jobs - GOV.UK

Applications will close at 11.55pm on Wednesday, 4th January 2023.



What to look out for in 2023


  • RoSPA Water Safety Conference 15th March 2023
  • Launch of WAID 2
  • 2022 Annual Drowning Report – late Spring 2023
  • More on Respect The Water and resources
  • Drowning and Incident Review research results

Keep updated by registering for our newsletter here.




Call for stories


As the National Water Safety Forum works with a broad range of organisations and partners, we want to share the powerful work that so many organisations are doing across the board to reduce drowning fatalities. We are collating case studies and stories that truly show the positive impact our partners have across the UK. Please send in your stories to


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