Police, Coastguards and councils are warning the public about the dangers of ‘tombstoning’ in Dorset.
Young thrillseekers have been putting their lives at risk by jumping into the sea from a great height, often from the top of cliffs.
There have been reports of youngsters jumping off the East pier at West Bay, narrowly missing boats coming in and out of Bridport Harbour.
Tombstoning can be dangerous for a number of reasons: water depth alters with the tide and it may be shallower than it seems, submerged objects like rocks may not be visible, the shock of cold water may make it difficult to swim and strong currents can rapidly sweep people away.
PC Scott McGregor of Bridport Police said: “We have had several reports over the last few months, where concerns have been raised by the public about the activity of people jumping off the pier at West Bay. On one occasion colleagues attended to prevent individuals from putting themselves and boat users in the harbour at risk.”
Nic Lonsdale, Duty Watch Manager for Portland Coastguard, said: “Jumping from piers, cliffs, rocks or other structures into the sea can be very dangerous.
“What was a deep pool at lunchtime might be a shallow puddle by teatime due to tidal conditions and you do not know what other hazards might be under the surface.
“According to the Coastguard database, since 2005 there have been 20 deaths and 76 serious injuries caused by tombstoning in the UK.”
Cllr Robert Gould, Leader of West Dorset District Council, said: “Bridport has a very active harbour with boats moving in and out on a regular basis, we strongly advise people against this activity as it is both irresponsible and potentially dangerous.”
Figures from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency show that in the past five years, seven people have been badly hurt from tombstoning in Dorset.
To report a dangerous incident along the coastline, please call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.