Warning issued after increase in 'Tombstoning' in Dorset

Warning issued after increase in 'Tombstoning' in Dorset

Published by Maria Greenwood at 7:30am 10th July 2019. (Updated at 7:35am 10th July 2019)

People are risking serious injury and even death by jumping from cliffs, piers and harbour walls across Dorset.

West Bay Coastguard Rescue Team have been reporting a large increase in 'Tombstoning' incidents in West Bay over recent weeks.

Large groups of teenagers have been seen jumping off East Pier into the harbour.

On Saturday a 29-year-old woman broke both of her legs after jumping from a 10ft high ledge into the water near Swanage.

cliff jump tombstoning

'What is tombstoning?'

  • The appropriately named ‘Tombstoning’, is the act of jumping from cliffs, piers, rocks and harbour walls into the water.
  • In recent years, the Coastguard has responded to over 200 tombstoning incidents.
  • Out of those, 70 people have suffered injuries, some of them life-changing, and a further 20 people have lost their lives. Of those who were injured, the youngest was only 12, and the oldest was 45.

West Bay Coastguard Rescue Team say there are multiple warning signs in place about the danger of jumping off the piers but they are still having to respond to more these incidents over the last few weeks.

A spokesman for West Bay Coastguard Rescue Team said:

"The Coastguard does not want to ruin anyone’s fun, but the reality is that jumping off the piers at West Bay is simply just not safe.

"Water depth alters constantly with the tide and the water may be a lot shallower than it seems.

"The build up of sand, rocks and debris may not be visible from above and strong currents can easily sweep you away not to mention the risk to and from harbour traffic.

"The sudden shock of cold water immersion can make swimming treacherous, as can swimming under the influence of alcohol or drugs."