§ Lord Norrie
asked Her Majesty's Government:
How many people drowned off British beaches in the last 10 years; whether Her Majesty's Government have considered producing national guidelines or regulations on beach safety management; what powers are currently available to local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales to make by-laws regarding public bathing; and whether they have considered the recommendations on improving beach safety management contained in the Holiday Which January 1991 issue.
Statistics for drownings off beaches in Britain are not collected centrally. Since 1983 the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has produced annual statistics on drownings in the UK, based on collation of press reports.
Beach management is at the discretion of the owners of the beach, whether it be a local authority or a private owner. It would be inappropriate to introduce central direction on beach safety, in view of the varying and differing nature of the coast line.
Local authorities in England and Wales have discretionary powers under Section 231 of the Public Health Act 1936 to make by-laws regulating bathers, and under Section 76 of the Public Health Act 1961 to make by-laws to regulate the use of pleasure boat activity. In Scotland, local authorities have discretionary powers under Section 121 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.
The recommendations contained in the Holiday Which report are a matter for consideration by individual owners, as responsibility for beach management lies with them.