Joint operation to tackle trespass on the Dawlish Sea Wall
Representatives from the police, ambulance and other agencies joined forces today (14 July) to tackle the issue of people trespassing on the Dawlish Sea Wall.
Representatives from British Transport Police (BTP), HM Coastguard, RNLI, Samaritans, Network Rail, South Western Ambulance Service and Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue were positioned on the busy Sea Wall and the surrounding beaches.
BTP officers aimed to educate and inform people of the dangers of trespassing on the railway and raise awareness of the dangers of using the Sea Wall in poor weather.
Other agencies emphasised the dangers of Devon and Cornwall’s coastline and promoting safety advice to all who visit the coast including everything from sunburn and heatstroke to cold water shock and drowning.
Trespassing on the railway is a serious offence. Those who behave irresponsibly near railway lines put their own lives at risk and could face a £1,000 fine.
In the last decade, more than 170 people have been killed as a result of trespassing on the railway. Half of those killed were under the age of 25.
The Sea Wall at Dawlish stands between the railway and the sea, with both being potentially deadly environments if risks are taken when in their vicinity. Around 190 people lose their lives on UK and Irish coasts each year, and over half never even planned to enter the water. We want you to enjoy Devon and Cornwalls coastline, but we also want you to recognise its dangers and never underestimate the power of the water.

The footpath decreases in height near Coastguards. This catches many unfamiliar walkers out during high tides and stormy conditions.

BTP’s Special Sergeant Connor Diamond said: “We have seen time and time again people risking their lives by trespassing on the railway.
“Impatience, ignorance, being under the influence – these are all reasons why some people might put themselves and others at risk by trespassing and we’ve seen and dealt with the consequences.
“Near misses, serious injuries and in some tragic cases, fatalities are all a result of trespassing and we need people to understand the dangers.
“We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable summer break, but don’t let your door be the one we knock on to say you or a loved one has been killed or seriously injured as a result of trespassing on the railway or not respecting the water.”

Trespass during bad weather has become all too familiar for Dawlish Beach viewers. Many do not realise just how much sea spray hits the walkway during the roughest conditions and we even considered spearheading a campaign for rough weather gates at the entry points to the wall. We are aware of other incidents taking place beyond our camera and this is caused by the footpath lowering around the old coastguard shed near the footbridge. That area is impassable during high tide when the Easterly gales blow in. People have been seen to climb over onto the railway and walk up into the station. The railway line remains live and both visibility and the sound of approaching trains are drastically reduced when the sea is crashing.
Please remember that it’s not just yourself that is at risk. The emergency services will always respond and are equally at risk.

One example of avoiding the waves and chancing the railway line can be seen in the video. We have seen many trespass incidents, Children putting coins on the tracks, Anglers retrieving tackle, but the worst during the 2014 repairs, when the wall was closed, was a group of women negotiating past NR equipment and returning on the tracks with two pushchairs and four young children! We’ve also witnessed a dog hurtling down the main line so please keep your pets under control too.