You’re dicing with death

Summer Safety urging youngsters to keep out of lakes and away from railway lines. Ulley Reservoir, Rotherham
Summer Safety urging youngsters to keep out of lakes and away from railway lines. Ulley Reservoir, Rotherham
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Youngsters are dicing with death by playing on South Yorkshire’s railways and swimming in lakes and reservoirs.

New figures show a 10 per cent rise in the number of children trespassing on the railways in a year.

Summer Safety urging youngsters to keep out of lakes and away from railway lines. A trespass notice near the line close to Oughtibridge Lane

Summer Safety urging youngsters to keep out of lakes and away from railway lines. A trespass notice near the line close to Oughtibridge Lane

And South Yorkshire firefighters today warned tragedy will strike if people do not stop swimming in open water.

A fire service spokesman said: “We’ve received several 999 calls so far this summer about people getting into difficulty in water.

“Although so far we’ve not had to make any rescues, it’s only a matter of time before someone’s safety is really put at risk unless people listen to our advice.

“It shouldn’t take tragedy to bring the issue of water safety to public attention, but recent cases elsewhere in the country of people drowning in open water are another reminder of the dangers rivers, lakes and reservoirs can present.”

Police today revealed children trespassed on South Yorkshire’s train tracks 79 times from April 1 to July 20 this year – up from 72 in the same period last year.

The Star – which today launches a campaign urging children to play safely during the school summer holiday – can reveal that from April 2012 to March 2013 there were 180 incidents.

Hotspots since April have been Wombwell, where there have been eight incidents, Sheffield with four, and Aldwarke and Moorthorpe, each with three.

In Chesterfield six incidents have been reported, and there have been two each in Bolton-on-Deane, Darnall, Dronfield and Finningley.

British Transport Police say incidents this month include children spotted on the tracks Marshgate Junction, Doncaster, and making a small fire under a railway bridge, and children messing about on the railway bridge and dangling their legs off the platform at Thorne South station, Doncaster.

Chief Inspector Derek O’Mara warned children they could end up being killed or injured – or put other lives at risk.

“Officers are all too often called to incidents where youngsters have been injured and in some cases killed because they were messing about on or near the railway and we do not want to have to tell any family that their son or daughter will not be coming home,” he said.

“It’s great The Star is supporting us, and running a wider campaign to urge children and young people to stay safe this summer.

“During the holidays we traditionally see an increase in offences on the railway.

“We are hoping that by targeting hotspot areas, and through the education work we have already done, we will reduce the number of incidents this summer and deter the majority of youngsters from playing or hanging around on the railways.

“We are also asking parents and adults to take responsibility and emphasise the dangers to their children, and if you live near the railway, ask yourself if you know where your children are playing?

“This is not about stopping children having fun – it is about keeping them safe from harm.”

Network Rail’s route managing director Phil Verster said: “We know the railway proves a tempting location to young people, especially during the good weather and school holidays.

“But as well as causing delays to train services all too often this ends in tragedy. Our railway is incredibly busy and the trackside is a dirty and dangerous environment for anyone who is not trained to be there.

“Whatever the reason for trespassing, whether it’s a shortcut, boredom or anything else, it simply is not worth the risk.

“I ask parents to reinforce our safety message, and to young people my message could not be clearer - please stay off the railway.”

To report a crime to British Transport Police call 0800 40 50 40 or text 61016. In an emergency, always call 999.