Rescue or Policing the water?

Mark-1

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The swimmer was "100 metres offshore" and “The man was ... keen to finish his swim but after three hours in the water the lifeboat crew decided to take him back to the station to be checked by an ambulance crew and reunite him with his wife and family,

It's great that they went to look for him, but once they found him safe well only 100m off the beach letting him continue or perhaps escorting him might have been a better response.

http://www.chichester.co.uk/news/local/missing-selsey-swimmer-keen-to-finish-his-swim-1-6945418
 

Babylon

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Misleading thread title: nothing whatsoever to do with 'policing'.

The swimmer was clearly being a prat [edit: toned down my original adjective]. Scared the carp out of his wife, then had the nerve to tell volunteer lifeboat crews out looking for him that that he wanted to finish his little swim! The LB crew had no choice once they found him: had they not then picked him up and he'd drowned or had his skull unscrewed by a jetski or mobo, then they'd have been culpable.
 
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prv

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I would suggest that after three hours in the water the swimmer would not be talking much sense

Have you been in the sea the last couple of weeks? It's like bathwater here in the Solent at the moment. Personally I don't have three hours' swimming stamina, but I'm sure some people do. And a lot of open-water swimmers wear wetsuits anyway.

Telling his wife he'd be in the water for an hour and then staying out for three is a bit of a dick move, but it nevertheless makes me uneasy when civilian members of the public start to think they have the power to "decide to take" other civilian members of the public where they don't want to go. The Police have a warrant from the Queen that allows them to do that. The RNLI don't.

Pete
 

duncan99210

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No matter what the water temperature is, unless it is in excess of the normal body temperature, the body will be cooling all the time. Three hours in the water whilst swimming to keep afloat will tax the fittest of people, leading to a degree of irrational behaviour. A lifeboat crew will assess this level of irrationality when dealing with the casualty and make a decision to remove him from the water or not depending on their assessment of the risk the casualty is presenting to both himself and others. It's a judgement call: in their judgement the casualty was unable to make a rational decision about his own ability to swim another mile and a half and therefore needed to be removed from the water.
 

dom

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What legal authority does a lifeboat crew have to detain someone who does not wish to be rescued?

Interestingly Scottish and English laws are a bit different here. Since the English 1961 Suicide Act it is no longer a crime to top oneself, although it is an offense to assist another in a suicide attempt, although charges are rarely brought. I imagine the RNLI could intervene with similar legality as the fire service does when forcibly pulling someone out of a burning building.

AFAIK it is an offence under Scottish law for an individual to conspire or assist another in the act of suicide and the assisting person could be charged with murder, manslaughter, or perhaps nothing depending on the precise circumstances of the case. Can't imagine the RNLI being charged if he'd died, but I similarly can't imagine he'd have any counter-case either.
 

prv

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I imagine the RNLI could intervene with similar legality as the fire service does

I used to read a couple of anonymous blogs by ambulance crew members. They would regularly describe finding people who they thought needed help, but who for whatever reason refused it. With very few exceptions, they were then not permitted to help. To treat someone against their expressed will (as opposed to implied consent because they're unconscious or delirious) requires them to first be sectioned under the Mental Health act.

Pete
 

pmagowan

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I used to read a couple of anonymous blogs by ambulance crew members. They would regularly describe finding people who they thought needed help, but who for whatever reason refused it. With very few exceptions, they were then not permitted to help. To treat someone against their expressed will (as opposed to implied consent because they're unconscious or delirious) requires them to first be sectioned under the Mental Health act.

Pete

No, they can be sectioned at the earliest opportunity but only if they have a mental illness. People sometimes lose the capacity to make a decision due to physical causes such as hypothermia. In this case the rescuer can act in good faith making a judgment as to the persons ability to make the decision. Of course, it is not practical to have a formal assessment of capacity in every case and so the legal standing has often been described as "it is easier to defend yourself in court against a live witness than a dead one".
 

pmagowan

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...which is what I was suggesting the LB crew's decision was based upon.

It is probably a bit jocular as, in reality, people are allowed to do silly things without being bodily detained but I think a court of law would very much take the circumstances into account and judge the intention of the rescue services. In this case it seems hardly likely that the man 'refused' resue, simply that he stated a preference but gave in willingly to the advice of the crew.
 

dom

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The other aspect of this episode is that this thoughtless swimmer robbed an afternoon's work from the volunteers who came out to "rescue" him and put a heap of expensive hours on a Coastguard helicopter. Pretty poor form to say the least.
 

Sandy

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Spent quite a few nights in my Mountain Rescue days being called out by relations when somebody was overdue. On finding them and they were OK, made a brew and had a chat before coming off the hill.
 

Seajet

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Have you been in the sea the last couple of weeks? It's like bathwater here in the Solent at the moment. Personally I don't have three hours' swimming stamina, but I'm sure some people do. And a lot of open-water swimmers wear wetsuits anyway.

Telling his wife he'd be in the water for an hour and then staying out for three is a bit of a dick move, but it nevertheless makes me uneasy when civilian members of the public start to think they have the power to "decide to take" other civilian members of the public where they don't want to go. The Police have a warrant from the Queen that allows them to do that. The RNLI don't.

Pete

+1, this makes me very uneasy.
 

Sandgrounder

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Have you been in the sea the last couple of weeks? It's like bathwater here in the Solent at the moment. Personally I don't have three hours' swimming stamina, but I'm sure some people do. And a lot of open-water swimmers wear wetsuits anyway.

Telling his wife he'd be in the water for an hour and then staying out for three is a bit of a dick move, but it nevertheless makes me uneasy when civilian members of the public start to think they have the power to "decide to take" other civilian members of the public where they don't want to go. The Police have a warrant from the Queen that allows them to do that. The RNLI don't.

Pete

+1
 

JumbleDuck

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I imagine the RNLI could intervene with similar legality as the fire service does when forcibly pulling someone out of a burning building.

If fire services have that right I would expect it to be enshrined as law. It's not immediately clear to me that well meaning amateurs pulling swimmers out of the sea against their will is the same thing. I watched the Scottish Open Water swimming championships last weekend. Some of the swimmers, particularly the in the masters races, were very slow, but I expect that if I had rowed out and forcibly dragged them into my dinghy some harsh words would have been said.
 

JumbleDuck

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The other aspect of this episode is that this thoughtless swimmer robbed an afternoon's work from the volunteers who came out to "rescue" him and put a heap of expensive hours on a Coastguard helicopter. Pretty poor form to say the least.

Cobblers. It's very generous of lifeboats crews to have rescuing people as a hobby, but that gives them no moral authority whatsoever over the rest of us. It's their choice to go out.
 
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