Scotland's safety minister chairs emergency services meeting after seven drownings in one week last month

Scotland’s community safety minister Ash Denham has chaired a meeting of emergency services and other organisations after seven people died from drowning in the space of a week last month.

In the final week of July, an 11-year-old boy died in a river at Stonehouse, a 13-year-old boy lost his life in water at Hazelbank in Lanark, while a 16-year-old boy died at Balloch at the south end of Loch Lomond.

The following day, Edina Olahova, 29, Rana Haris Ali, nine, and Muhammad Asim Riaz, 39, died after getting into difficulty in the water near Pulpit Rock at Loch Lomond, while a 34-year-old man died in the following days in Loch Lubnaig.

In response, Ash Denham convened a meeting with Police Scotland, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, the Scottish Ambulance Service and the Coastguard, along with representatives of Scottish Canals, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, the RNLI, Water Safety Scotland and Education Scotland, among others.

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Following the meeting, Ms Denham said: “The Scottish Government takes water safety very seriously and this meeting was an opportunity for us to engage with key partners and reflect on the recent tragic incidents and look at what more can be done to mitigate risks and to educate people about the dangers of Scotland’s coastal and inland waters.

“Beautiful and enticing as they often appear, Scotland’s waters can be a source of lethal danger, as we saw with the heart-breaking loss of lives this summer.

“I was heartened to hear a real determination and unity of purpose at Wednesday’s meeting for everyone to work together to improve water safety and I am encouraged all participants agreed not only to review their own organisation’s approach and performance, but also to work collaboratively so that key, consistent messages get across to the public.

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Scotland’s community safety minister Ash Denham.

“We have agreed to come together again in a few weeks’ time to assess what further effort is required to ensure greater protection for the public in future.”

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