Tombstoning in harbour putting teenagers at risk

Tombstoning is extremely dangerous and continues to be a concern in Southwick Picture: ''Thelma Taylor
Tombstoning is extremely dangerous and continues to be a concern in Southwick Picture: ''Thelma Taylor

TEENAGERS are putting their lives at risk by tombstoning in Shoreham Harbour.

Thrill-seeking youngsters have been witnessed jumping off the Eastern Arm in Southwick several times in the last few weeks.

Shoreham Port said it had campaigned to stop the dangerous activity but warnings were still being ignored.

Paul Johnson, safety and HR director, said: “Sadly, despite our efforts to stop people from tombstoning, there are still individuals who continue to jump into open water without considering what might be lying underneath the surface.

“I would like to urge people to think twice before they jump into open water. There are so many distressing stories about young people who have been paralysed through tombstoning. It is such a tragic outcome and one that can be easily avoided.”

Southwick Beach is now fully accessible again, following works to repair flood damage, and the port authority said hundreds of visitors were spending more time on the beach and in the sea this summer.

Guides issued by Shoreham Port detail safety on the beach and the authority said the majority of visitors respected these, but some young people were continuing to jump into the sea from areas where it was clearly signposted as dangerous.

These areas include the Eastern and Western Harbour Arms and from the groynes along Southwick Beach.

Harbour master Julian Seaman said: “There is no reason for people to be swimming or jumping off the Eastern and Western Arms.

“Our engineering team have now completed their current work on Southwick Beach, adjacent to Carats Café, installing new timber groynes and restoring large parts of the beach for visitors to enjoy.

“This is a fantastic area which is open to the public all year round. If you witnesses any unsafe behaviour please contact the harbour office on 01273 598100.”

National figures show 18 swimmers have died and 57 have been seriously injured as a result of jumping off cliffs, rocks and other high places since 2007.

A spokeswoman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: ‘We always urge people to have fun but to stay safe when out enjoying our beautiful coastline, but jumping from piers, cliffs and rocks – or tombstoning as it is also known – is a big concern as it’s extremely dangerous.

‘Water depth alters with the tide so what was a deep pool at lunchtime might be a shallow puddle by teatime.”

The shock of hitting cold water may make it difficult to swim and strong currents can sweep people away.