To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent steps he has taken to improve the safety of rivers.
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will take further steps to ensure that services to improve river safety are adequately supported and funded to meet risk and demand.
The Environment Agency encourages safe and responsible recreation on inland and coastal water and is responsible for safety on waterside assets it owns, operates or occupies (such as locks, weirs and bridges). It undertakes a comprehensive programme of public safety risk assessments of those assets and regularly inspects them to ensure that the provided risk control measures are well maintained. The Environment Agency has published advice on how to stay safe while visiting waterways: www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-safe-around-water. It is also a member of the National Water Safety Forum.
Water safety is a vital life skill, which is why it is a mandatory part of the curriculum for Physical Education at primary school. The Department for Education recognises that children have missed out on opportunities to learn to swim due to COVID-19 restrictions and is working closely with Swim England and other swimming and water safety organisations to support pupils returning safely to swimming and promoting water safety education.
The Fire National Resilience Assurance Team (NRAT) in Merseyside is funded by the Home Office. NRAT maintains and supports the Defra-funded Flood Rescue National Asset Register. The Flood Rescue National Asset Register comprises of specialist flood rescue teams from both Fire and Rescue Services and the voluntary sector. These teams are available to be deployed across the country to aid rescue efforts during a flood incident. The National Fire Chiefs Council is also a member of the National Water Safety Forum, and Fire and Rescue Services continues to support in raising public awareness in water safety.