Vandals and thieves who have been responsible for damaging or stealing life rings in the borough of late have been warned of the potential fatal consequences and flatly told: “Leave them alone!”
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council has taken action to target the misuse of these life-saving rings at local waterways.
Over the past few months life rings have been tampered with and thrown into the river at Solitude Park in Banbridge, in Gilford and in a number of other areas across the borough.
With a life ring costing on average £50 plus additional installation costs, council ratepayers are having to spend vital funds replacing the safety devices every year due to the reckless actions of a few.
Lord Mayor Glenn Barr said: “Council is committed to water safety at all ABC waterways and locations. Vandals who recklessly tamper with life rings are putting people at risk – and could lead to lives being lost.”
“As the name suggests, these life rings are there to save lives. It buys vital time for someone who has fallen in until the emergency services arrive. It is important to have these life rings along waterways so that passersby can come to the aid of someone in difficulty if needed.
“They play a very valuable part in water safety and act as a constant visible reminder of the danger that the river and water environment represents. I would discourage anyone from tampering with with this type of vital safety equipment – please help us keep our waterways safe for everyone.”
Inspector Alwyn Peters from the PSNI added: “A life ring could be the difference between life and death for someone, who may be in difficulty in the water. Causing damage to such an important piece of equipment is unacceptable and shows a total disregard for the safety of the local community.
“The life rings, which are strategically placed, are there for a reason. Those involved in the removal or damage of this vital equipment need to carefully examine their actions. Think about what you are doing and the possible tragic consequences.”
Councillor Jill Macauley, Chair of the PCSP, said “PCSP’s Community Safety Wardens are reporting missing life rings on an almost weekly basis – with five missing last weekend alone.
“Given the tragedies which have taken place across Northern Ireland the message needs to be promoted that tampering with life rings can have devastating consequences.”