Attacks on swimmers and watersports enthusiasts have to stop before someone is seriously hurt or drowned, Salford Watersports Centre has warned.
Groups of youths as young as 15 or 16 have been congregating at Salford Quays and throwing stones and bottles at customers taking part in open water swimming and paddleboarding sessions organised by Salford Watersports Centre.
Some of the group even jumped into the water as if they were trying to land on swimmers.
Staff from the Watersports Centre who asked the group to stop throwing missiles were met with a hail of abuse and threats.
Salford City Council and Greater Manchester Police are now reviewing CCTV footage to identify and deal with those involved. They are asking anyone who saw the group, who arrived on bikes, and congregated near the wake park tower off Waterfront Quay around 7pm on Monday and Tuesday, to pass on any information or phone footage which might help identify those involved.
Councillor Barbara Bentham, lead member for environment, neighbourhoods and community safety, also urged parents to speak to teenagers and make sure they are not involved in this or other risky or anti-social behaviour at The Quays.
“This is not a game, this is reckless, dangerous and selfish. If someone jumps in and lands on a swimmer both people will get hurt and could even drown before help can get to them,” she said.
“The water in Salford Quays is deep and cold all year round and anyone jumping or going into the water risks cold water shock which can be lethal.
“That’s why swimming and watersports are only allowed as part of organised and supervised sessions where those taking part are properly trained and equipped to deal with the cold water and where we can maintain a safe ratio of customers to lifeguards. Customers should be able to enjoy those sessions without mindless thugs targeting them and the Watersports Centre staff are entitled to respect too.”
Salford City Council has carried out extensive work to try and deter young people and adults from jumping from bridges and swimming in the former docks. The area is monitored by CCTV cameras all year round and by joint council/police patrols in hot weather. Under 18s caught jumping from bridges or illegally swimming will receive a police warning; adults will be issued with a £100 fixed penalty notice.
Letters warning of the dangers of unsupervised open water swimming have been sent to parents via local schools and posters and postcards distributed signposting people to free, safe, alternative summer fun activities. The council is also supporting Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s Safe4Summer campaign which highlights the dangers of swimming in open water.
“With very hot weather predicted this weekend, there will be even more contrast between the temperature of the air and the temperature of open water in the Quays, lakes, rivers and reservoirs. Please stay out of the water, we don’t want to see any more tragedies,” added Councillor Bentham.