Drowning fatality data released for Scotland

On 10th June, The National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) released the annual figures for drowning fatalities in the UK.

Using these, the Water Safety Scotland (WSS) data subgroup put together an annual trend report to track yearly statistics in relation to the baseline within Scotland’s Drowning Prevention Strategy (SDS). This helps to measure progress against the target of a 50 per cent reduction in accidental drowning fatalities by 2026.

The picture for 2019 is mixed. On the one hand, the number of overall drowning fatalities has increased and is almost back at the SDPS baseline of 97 water-related fatalities a year.

However when looking only at accidental drowning fatalities, they have decreased sharply. SDPS average showed that there were around 50 accidental drowning fatalities each year in Scotland. In 2019, there were 35.

When considering population rates, accidental drowning fatalities have decreased year on year from an initial baseline of 0.93 per 100,000 people, to 0.68 last year.

WSS can be cautiously optimistic that the work implemented in Scotland to help prevent drownings is starting to see some results.

However, caution must be exerted because the number of unknown fatalities was high in 2019. Some of these unrecorded outcomes may have been accidental drowning fatalities, which would bring the number and rate up.Alongside these statistics WSS released its two-year review of SDPS, which shows all the incredible work that has been produced by members to help reduce water-related fatalities in Scotland. It can be viewed at www.watersafetyscotland.org.uk/strategy

The review and the recent statistical release indicate that WSS is on the right track to reduce drowning fatalities and meet the ambitious targets set.

Work has still to be done, but the commitment of WSS members and its supporters provides an air of optimism that Scotland will continue to halt and reduce these preventable fatalities, and ultimately save lives.

By Carlene McAvoy, community safety development manager at RoSPA and chairman of the WSS data subgroup