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National Water Safety Forum

The National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) is a UK-wide association of organisations that have interests in and responsibilities for water safety including sports governing bodies, rescue services, regulators, navigation and harbour authorities, local government, utilities, and other representative groups.

The Forum works in partnership with Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) who provide technical and administrative support. The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) is a member of the NWSF, as are some 80 local authorities. 

The Forum was established in 2005 to provide a single point of contact for water safety advice, expertise and information. The Forum’s work is divided between six specialist advisory groups covering: beaches; inland water; the sea; swimming; water sports and information/research, all report to a coordinating committee. 

The Forum has produced the UK Drowning Prevention Strategy 2016-26, which aims to reduce accidental drowning fatalities in the UK by 50 per cent by 2026, and reduce risk among the highest risk populations, groups and communities.

The Strategy's initial three-year phase will address the following targets:

  • Every child should have the opportunity to learn to swim and receive water safety education at primary school and where required at Key Stage 3;
  • Every community with water risks should have a community-level risk assessment and water safety plan;
  • To better understand water-related self-harm;
  • Increase awareness of everyday risks in, on and around the water;
  • All recreational activity organisations should have a clear strategic risk assessment and plans that address key risks.
  • The strategy has encouraged partners to develop a more coordinated and collaborative approach to reduce drowning and water-related harm and recent trends suggest that progress has been made in terms of keeping people informed of the risks, and that working together to prevent drowning is having an impact. 

The NWSF is also responsible for compiling the Water Incident Database (WAID) and publishing annual fatality reports.  

They have also published a number of other useful documents including  Guiding Principles for Water Safety Management which forms the basis for the LGAs water safety toolkit