THE SCOTTISH Government is to conduct a comprehensive review into how the emergency services handle water rescues. Headed by Paddy Tomkins, the former Chief Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland, the report will examine:

WATER RESCUE: In need of review
WATER RESCUE: In need of review

  • the resources and capabilities of all agencies currently involved in water rescue emergencies, including flooding
  • whether there is a need for changes in current operational arrangements between responders
  • whether there is a need for a change in the law covering the responders who cover water rescue
  • the level of public awareness and education of the risks associated with open water

The announcement comes just weeks after another tragedy on Loch Awe when four anglers drowned within sight of the shore.  It was revealed that the nearest rescue boat was 70 miles away in Renfrew.

Scotland has more than 27,000 lochs, over 11,800km of coastal water and more than 120,000 km of rivers and streams.  The Loch Awe deaths prompted widespread criticism of rescue co-ordination. Currently a wide range of agencies, including police, fire and rescue services, mountain rescue teams, HM Coastguard and the RNLI can be called upon to undertake a water rescue, with the response in many cases involving several agencies.

The Government’s move has been widely welcomed.  Shadow environment minister, John Scott MSP said: “The recent tragedy in Loch Awe desperately sadly highlighted the piecemeal approach in place for inland waterway rescue response and the review announced today to address these deficiencies is to be welcomed.”