Following reports of three people entering the River Thames this week (Tuesday, 23 July), Inspector Stuart Simpson, from the Met’s Marine Policing Unit (MPU) said:
“Sadly, yesterday (Wednesday, 24 July) my officers recovered the body of a man, believed to be aged 23, from Shadwell Basin after he entered the water last night. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family at this extremely upsetting time.
“We also responded to two further reports that people had entered the water at Waterloo Bridge at 2030hrs and near Kingston High Street at 2035hrs. Enquiries remain active to locate the individuals.
“One death is one too many and we are absolutely committed to reducing the number of deaths on the River Thames, as well as across London.
“Whilst at times, the Thames may look appealing, especially in this hot weather, it remains very dangerous all year round. On initial entry the water can seem warm on the surface, but further in it can be freezing cold and there are often very strong undercurrents. The initial shock of the cold water is often what leads to people going subsurface and subsequently drowning.
“Cold water shock is a killer and Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) figures tell us that in waters like this on the Thames, within three minutes people will start to suffer from its effects. Even in the middle of summer, you may experience cold water shock in rivers or the sea where you inhale water involuntarily because the temperature is so low.
Neil Withers, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager for the Thames, said: “We understand that it can be very tempting to jump into the river to cool off on very hot days. Even though the river may look calm, it’s very cold and you can be swept away in a matter of seconds. It’s never worth the risk. Please find a lido or pool and enjoy the hot weather safely. We don’t want any more families and friends to lose loved ones when it’s so easily avoidable.”
Earlier this year, The Port of London Authority (PLA), the Metropolitan Police, London Fire Brigade (LFB), Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), London Ambulance Service and Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) came together to produce a Drowning Prevention Strategy for the tidal Thames along its 95-mile course, from Teddington to the North Sea.
Those involved called for people from all walks of life to play their part in saving lives, by following safety advice and having the confidence to intervene when they spot someone in danger, or on the verge of self harm along the capital’s river.
A crucial ask of the public is call to 999 and ask for the coastguard, rather than go into the water after someone in difficulty, a message that also covers dogs in the river.
Inspector Simpson continues: “Our Marine Police Unit continues to work with partners around the clock to safeguard the river and provide necessary support to those who need us the most.”
Anyone who sees or hears anyone who may be planning on entering is asked to speak to them and attempt to talk them back to a safe piece of land. You should not put yourself in any danger.
If you do see a person in the water, then you should call 999 and ask for the coastguard and police.
Further advice on how to stay safe in the water can be found on the RNLI’s website: https://rnli.org/safety