Scotland's water-related deaths at ‘highest point in last five years’

There was a 16% increase in Scotland's water-related fatalities last year, according to the Water Incident Database.

Water-related deaths in Scotland at ‘highest point in last five years’ iStock

The number of water-related deaths in Scotland has reached its highest point in the last five years, figures show.

Statistics from the Water Incident Database revealed that there was an increase in water-related fatalities last year.

The database, maintained by the National Water Safety Forum, revealed a 16% rise when compared to 2020’s figures.

It also revealed a stark rise in accidental water deaths last year, with 58 of 105 drownings deemed accidental.

Water Safety Scotland released its annual trend report on Friday, detailing the latest figures in comparison to Scotland’s Drowning Prevention Strategy (SDPS) and the previous year’s data.

The report comes after the Scottish Government launched the Water Safety Action Plan last month to complement the SDPS, with summer on the horizon.

A large number of drownings was concentrated to summer months last year, with seven deaths in the span of a week in July.

Carlene McAvoy, Water Safety Scotland’s data subgroup chair, said: “Unfortunately we have seen an increase in water-related fatalities from the average number usually seen in Scotland. 

“The recent figures for accidental water-related fatalities show a 16 per cent increase in comparison to the SDPS baseline – bringing accidental water-related fatalities to their highest point for the last five years.”

The Water Safety Action Plan was launched in March by community safety minister Ash Regan, in a bid to improve safety around Scotland’s waters.

Ms Regan said: “The Scottish Government takes water safety very seriously and this action plan includes a range of key steps agreed with our partners to further mitigate the risks from Scotland’s coastal and inland waters.

“Scotland’s beaches, rivers, reservoirs and lochs are amongst our finest natural resources, but beautiful as they are they can be a source of lethal danger and we continue to see the tragic consequences of that.

“The actions in the plan are targeted at creating a safer environment in Scotland. But whether it’s sailing, swimming, diving or fishing, anyone undertaking recreational activities in and around water must be fully aware of the risks and take every possible precaution.”

Water Safety Scotland is urging people to be safe and follow their three-part Water Safety Code:

  • “Stop and Think, Spot the Dangers
  • “Stay Together, Stay Close
  • “In an Emergency, Call 999
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