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The perils of tombstoning from Cornwall's Harbourmasters

The perils of tombstoning from Cornwall's Harbourmasters

Published by Helen Down at 4:44pm 1st July 2020.

Cornwall's Harbourmasters have warned against the dangers of tombstoning.

The thrill seeking activity involves jumping off cliffs, seawalls and harbours into deep water, but Cornwall Harbourmasters say it has claimed 20 lives across the UK since 2007. 

In May this year three people were seriously hurt after jumping from the arch at Durdle Door in Dorset.

"With better weather, and everyone flocking back to the coast, tombstoning has again reached epidemic proportions. 

"We cannot over-emphasise how dangerous it is to - quite literally - jump into the unknown. You can never tell what is hidden from view under the sea’s surface. 

"Not only hidden rocks, but we have pulled out rusting bicycles and wooden stakes from water adjacent to harbour walls - imagine the injuries they could cause. 

"Since 2004 the Coastguard has dealt with over 200 incidents, with 70 injuries and 20 deaths.  This is completely unnecessary risk-taking."

Mark Killingback is the Harbourmaster for Truro and Penryn

The Safer Cornwall partnership, which includes Cornwall Council and Devon and Cornwall Police, reminds parents to keep track of their children’s activities. 

They have had reports of anti-social behaviour associated with tombstoning, including people being threatening or abusive, alcohol consumption and criminal damage. 

Newquay and St.Ives Harbourmaster Mike Ridgway said there have been reports on the rise of tombstoners getting verbally abusive to boat skippers, who sound their horns as a warning to move out of the way when they are entering the harbour.  

In Penzance there has been tombstoning from quays and from the stern of the Scillonian ferry, as well as swimming in the harbour mouth while vessels are approaching.  

The Pier Master of Falmouth’s Prince of Wales Pier has recorded numerous incidents of tombstoning during May and June this year, including one where damage was done to one of the pier buildings.  

"Tombstoning can have severe and life-threatening consequences. We’re urging everyone to consider the risks to themselves and others. Look out for warning signs and don’t jump into the unknown."

Rob Nolan, Cornwall Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection

Any anti-social behaviour can be reported by calling the police on the non-emergency number 101 or email 

You can also report anti-social behaviour to Cornwall Council’s Anti-social Behaviour Team on 0300 1234 232 or atantisocialbehaviour@cornwall.gov.uk

If the threat is causing immediate danger call 999. Visit the Safer Cornwall website to find out more. 

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