Swimming Pool Tragedy Sentenced

October 5, 2014

Pascal Bates has today prosecuted Leisure Connection Limited, a company running some 70 leisure centres across the country, in a case arising from the death of a 7 year old girl in the pool at Blackwater Leisure Centre at Maldon in Essex.

The Prosecution established that Leisure Connection’s failures to deploy and train its staff, resulting in too few lifeguards being stationed in the wrong places, robbed the victim of her chances of rescue and survival.  The case has generated considerable interest in Essex and East London and on the part of the leisure industry (see below for link to news coverage).

As the court heard, unusually the HSE investigators looked into the staffing records, and compared the level of lifeguarding provision required (according to Leisure Connection’s pool timetable, its own procedures, its staff rotas and its internal budgeting) for full and safe operation of the pool to the hours of lifeguarding Leisure Connection actually paid for on its staff payroll.  The Prosecution’s analysis showed a noticeably lesser level of lifeguarding being paid for than was required.  On the morning of the start of a detailed trial of issue of these and other heavily disputed points, Leisure Connection accepted for the first time that its systems failed to identify the shortfall in the lifeguarding hours actually worked, compared to those required for full and safe operation of the pool.  Other central checks had failed to pick up other important failures at the Blackwater site.

The implication within the leisure industry, and beyond for any business relying upon on site tailoring and implementation of centrally set safety-critical arrangements, is that central checking and monitoring must be sufficient to identify and address material divergences on site if safety standards are to be maintained and acceptable service provided to the public.

Click here for news coverage of this case.