Keeping Our Young People Safe
On 22 March 1993 Claire Langley, Simon Dunne, Rachel Walker and Dean Sayer, pupils from Southway Comprehensive, Plymouth, tragically lost their lives whilst kayaking on a school trip organised by the St Alban’s Activity Centre. Their parents and other campaigners are now trying to stop the repeal of the legislation brought in to ensure such a disaster never happened again.
There is an e-petition to sign here: petition to DWP to oppose repeal of the Adventure Activity Licensing Act.
The community in Plymouth launched the petition with local politicians. Councillor Sam Leaves, Plymouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for children and young people, said:
“As a city directly affected by the tragic events of Lyme Bay, where four young people from Southway lost their lives, we stand united in our views that the safety of our children must always come first.”
“We all want to see young people taking part in a full and varied range of adventure activities that are properly risk-assessed and soundly licensed to ensure safety.”
Another family Aileen and Howard Lucas who lost their son Andrew on a walking holiday in Spain want licensing extending to overseas trips. They said this about scrapping the AALA:
“It doesn’t seem fair to the families of these kids. It’s not much of a lasting tribute to them.
“It suggests those teenagers’ lives were somehow expendable.”
We are we are pausing the proposal to abolish the AALA so that we can further consider how to develop a regime that reflects the level of risk of participating in adventurous activity while ensuring users are reassured about a provider’s safety management arrangements.
We will consult on this issue later this year to seek views from all with an interest and to provide an opportunity to influence future arrangements in England.
The owner of the activity centre and the centre itself were convicted of corporate manslaughter over the deaths. This was the first conviction for this offence in the UK. The owner was jailed for three years, but his sentence was cut to two years on appeal.
In October 2010 Lord Young of Graffham recommended that the AALA should be abolished and replaced by a code of practice.