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Safer People - Police Offer advice regarding Shadwell Quarry, Much Wenlock

Swimming in a quarry exposes you to many unseen dangers.

During the recent spell of hot weather, West Mercia Police have been called to a number of incidents in which concerned members of the public have rung to report people swimming in Shadwell Quarry. 

As well as putting themselves at risk by swimming in the waters of the quarry, those attending are parking without consideration for other road users along the A4169, leaving behind a large quantity of litter and trespassing on private land.  The Safer Neighbourhood Team are working with the owners of the quarry and the surrounding land, the local Councillor and other interested parties to try and reach a solution to the long standing issue.

The Safer Neighbourhood Team will be continuing to patrol the area when on duty in an effort to deter those attending.

The most significant danger is that of cold water shock.  This is the body's short term involuntary response to being suddenly immersed in cold water. The waters around the UK are officially classed as cold (10 - 15°) and when the body enters this cold environment there are a number of physiological responses. The sudden lowering of skin temperature is one of the most profound stimuli that the body can encounter. The responses tend to be short lived, but threaten survival.

First of all, closure of the blood vessels in the skin which results in increased resistance to blood flow. The heart then has to work harder and blood pressure increases. At the same time there is a "gasp" response which can result in water being breathed rather than air. Concurrently the breathing rate changes dramatically, it can increase by as much as tenfold. All these responses contribute to a feeling of panic, which are more difficult to manage if the casualty is struggling to stay afloat.

After a while the body gains control of itself and much of the excessive reaction reduces. However coping with cold water shock certainly takes its toll in terms of long-term survivability. Unsurprisingly one effect of cold water shock is to induce a heart attack, even in the relatively healthy and relatively young (Many thanks to the RNLI website for this detail).

Unlike a swimming pool, there are many other potential hazards.

The depth of the body of water is likely to be unknown, a swimmer or paddler can very quickly get out of their depth.

You won't know what is just beneath the surface, disused water filled quarries are full of all sorts of dumped items, many of which could be extremely hazardous. - Particularly relevant if people are jumping into the water.

Weil's disease is a bacterial infection spread by animal urine, especially that of rats. It tends to be found in urban rivers and canals, but you can also catch Weil's disease in still water such as lakes, either by swallowing contaminated water or, more likely, by getting it into your bloodstream through a cut or graze.

You can end up with diarrhoea and vomiting after swimming in sewage-contaminated streams, rivers and lakes. The main culprits are bugs such as E. coli and Cryptosporidium, which can be spread by swallowing water from lakes, streams and rivers containing sewage, or any kind of animal or bird droppings.

"Swimmer's itch" is an itchy rash caused by certain parasites that live in freshwater snails. The snails live on the reeds around marshy lakes and stagnant ponds. On warm, sunny days the parasites can be released into the water and burrow into the skin of swimmers(Thanks to the NHS website for the information on Weil's disease, diarrhoea and vomiting, and "swimmer's itch").

All of these dangers are compounded if alcohol is involved - approximately 25% of all drowning victims in the UK have alcohol in their system.  From checking the large quantity of litter at Shadwell Quarry, alcohol is definitely being consumed in the area.

If you have concerns about water safety, please call 101, use 999 if someone is actually having difficulty in the water.

Please follow us on Twitter:  @WenlockCops for updates to this story and others for the area.

For any help or assistance from your West Mercia Police, please contact us on 101, or email  Please bear in mind that if you are reporting an incident, you will need to ring 101 as the email address is not monitored 24/7 and a Police incident record cannot be created from an email to the SNT.

If you want to pass any information anonymously you can call CRIMESTOPPERS on 0800 555 111 or use their online reporting form



Published 04/05/19