PICTURES: Lives at risk in illegal Doncaster water plunge during heatwave

People have been jumping off the Don Doors aqueduct on the New Junction Canal, at Kirk Bramwith, Doncaster.
People have been jumping off the Don Doors aqueduct on the New Junction Canal, at Kirk Bramwith, Doncaster.

This is the picture which shows how people are risking their lives again to cool off in open water in Doncaster this summer.

While some have broken into the Don Doors aqueduct on the New Junction Canal,at Kirk Bramwith, pictured, to plunge from height into the water, police have received a wave of calls over concerns about people putting themselves at risk swimming and jumping from bridges at Doncaster Lakeside.

The aqueduct

The aqueduct

And now talks are to be held to try to change the design of Doncaster Lakeside to stop people getting in and risking their safety

Concerned bosses at the Canal and River Trust say people have broken locks at the aqueduct to get inside, using tools to break in.

Mike Marshall, waterways manager at the Canal and River Trust said the charity had put a lock on the aqueduct to stop people accessing and climbing it after the problem had occurred in the past.

He said: "Since adding this lock we have been battling with a small, determined group of people from the local area who are purposefully damaging the lock with specialist equipment to gain access. Twelve months ago we put in place extra guarding to protect the lock, which until recently had been a sufficient deterrent.

"Sadly, we have been informed of further vandalism to the lock. We have carried out initial repairs and will be securing the lock with additional renovations shortly. The vandals are not only putting their lives at risk by jumping off the aqueduct, but this repeated damage is costing our charity thousands of pounds.”

He added: “Unfortunately, when the weather warms, young people are risking their lives by jumping into canals and rivers to cool down. Of the 400 people who drown in the UK every year more than half the fatalities happen at inland waters such as canals, rivers, lakes, quarries and reservoirs.

"Inland waterways, like canals, rivers and docks, can look really inviting but you can’t tell what is below the surface. The water is often murky, you can’t see the depth or obstacles in the water and low temperatures can cause the blood to rush away from your muscles to protect your organs and limbs and muscles may become fatigued quickly - this can lead to drowning. The consequences can be devastating.”

It comes at a time when police have been called out on a number of occasions during the June heatwave because of concerns over people using bridges at Lakeside to plunge into the lake to cool down.

The calls came as the weekend of June 17 and June 18 proved to be one of the busiest of the year for South Yorkshire Police, who also received a major increase in their calls over alcohol related incidents, with calls close to the numbers usually received on New Year's Eve.

Doncaster Police Supt Neil Thomas said: "Alcohol was the biggest issue, particularly on the Friday and Saturday night on what was an exceptionally busy weekend.

"The other issue that we had was people on routes and bridges over the water. Most of the calls about open water were over people jumping off bridges and diving into the water.

"The bridges at Lakeside are not that high, but they are an easy access for people into the water.

"The concern is that the water is not that deep in places, so there is the possibility of injury.

"The way the lake has been built, it has never been open for swimming. There is an issue with some of the algae in there, which is potentially poisonous, and not everyone who goes in there is a strong swimmer.

"We have had incidents in there where people have got into trouble, and where police officers have had to go in there to get people out.

"I can understand it is an attractive place to swim, but it's not designed for it. This is not about us or the council being killjoys."

There are now due to be joint meetings between the police and Doncaster Council in the next few weeks which will look to 'design out' the issue, possibly by altering the bridges to make it more difficult to jump in.

Police say the lake is a popular place for people to visit and and to look at wildlife and were not looking to fence the lake off.

Safety concerns were raised over open water swimming in July 2014 when Matthew Mellor, aged 27, drowned in the disused quarry off Hurst Lane, Auckley, after he got into difficulty whilst swimming with eight friends.