Coastguards hope new signs will help stop tombstoning

Seaton Sluice Harbour-tombstoning story.
Seaton Sluice Harbour-tombstoning story.

DAREDEVILS are being urged not to put their lives at risk by jumping off cliffs in south east Northumberland into the North Sea.

Every year, coastal emergency teams are called out to deal with cases of tombstoning by teenagers and young men along the county’s coastline.

Now coastguards are trialling a new scheme which, if successful, could be employed nationwide next year. They are putting up signs warning that a people have suffered serious injuries while jumping into the water from popular tombstoning locations and urging others not to do the same.

Coastguard official Greg Albrighton has met the coastal warden at Seaton Sluice to see what can be done after youths were spotted jumping from a bridge into the harbour.

“That is particularly dangerous there as it’s all tidal and it’s also quite a jump,” he said.

Mr Albrighton added: “Tombstoning has been a problem over the last five years. It seems to be ever-increasing, and we’ve had a few serious injuries and a few deaths.

“Each year, coastguards look at what is happening across the UK, then try to put preventable strategies in place. These signs are the one we have come up with this year.

“We’re putting the signs up, and I’ll also be involved with youth clubs and schools to get the message across.

“If we can stop a percentage doing it, then that might translate into fewer injuries and deaths and less callouts for emergency teams.

“Tombstoning all depends on the weather. The warmer the weather, the more risk of people tombstoning.

“This is something that should be completely preventable, but accidents and injuries do seem to be increasing over the years.

“The school holidays are by far our busiest time, with the two and three weeks either side when the weather is warm.

“There is also peer pressure and the involvement of alcohol.”

Anyone who spots people jumping off cliffs is urged to contact either the coastguard or police.

“I know the police are keen to stop this as well,” added Mr Albrighton.

“They want to decrease the number of incidents and stamp it out if possible.”