Like many, I am saddened and shocked by the tragic deaths of five young men at Camber Sands this week, following hard on the heels of a fatality a few weeks ago.
One of the slightly stranger stories from the Rio Olympics was that there were no fewer than 75 lifeguards on duty in total, keeping an eye on the few hundreds of elite swimmers.
I must say I was gobsmacked to hear that Rother DC employs no lifeguards at all, to keep an eye on 25,000 mostly inexperienced swimmers at Camber. The job description for Rother DC beach patrollers requires no swimming aptitude and indeed my understanding is that they are not even permitted to enter the water.
I accept that people need to apply individual responsibility in most contexts. However, in a crowd situation, the public authority has a duty of care to inform, warn and protect against hazards, especially where these are readily identifiable.
This is what happens at football matches, festivals, marches or other crowd events.
I was particularly appalled by Rother DC’s press release stating that ‘in recent years we have seen a change in the make-up of visitors to Camber, including more people from outside the area who are not familiar with the sea and the dangers it can pose’. Camber has always been a popular seaside destination for Londoners and further afield, i.e. people from outside – where’s RDC’s evidence for this statement?
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