A hard-hitting public safety campaign has been launched by Portsmouth City Council in a bid to deter young people from 'tombstoning', jumping into the sea from a height, along the seafront in Portsmouth and Southsea.
Warm weekends and the start of the summer holidays can lead to an increase in groups of young people gathering at spots such as the Hotwalls and the Camber and encouraging each other to take part in this potentially fatal activity.
The 'Sorry Mum' campaign posters, which will be displayed at strategic points along the seafront, feature vivid photographs of young people receiving emergency medical care in the aftermath of an accident. The posters aims to highlight the risk of serious injury or death when jumping into shallow water and to encourage young people to consider the potential consequences for those they love, as well as themselves, before jumping.
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), over 80 per cent of those involved in the most serious tombstoning accidents were male and just over half the cases involved teenagers. Of non-fatal incidents, spinal and limb injuries are the most commonly reported emergencies linked to tombstoning. In recent years, there have been numerous high-profile cases of young men being seriously injured or killed along the south coast, including in Portsmouth.
"The aim of this campaign is to make sure that when young people are out enjoying our coastline they are not putting themselves in harm's way", comments Cllr Steve Pitt, the council's Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Economic Development & Deputy Leader.
"Tombstoning is an activity that can have life-changing or even fatal consequences and we want people to stop and think about the devastating impact one wrong jump could have on them and their loved ones. The sea may look inviting but when you jump in from a height, you risk shallow waters and submerged objects, as well as serious shock from cold water and strong currents that can make swimming and getting out of the water impossible."