National Water Safety Forum


The UK Drowning Prevention Strategy 2016-2026

UK Drowning Prevention Strategy

A future without drowning

Tragically, on average, around 400 people drown around the UK every year and a further 200 take their own lives on our waters. Many of these deaths are preventable and we believe more can be done to reduce this loss of life.

Since its inception, the NWSF and its network has enabled some fantastic collaborative work to reduce drowning and improve water safety. However, in order to make an even greater impact, a step-change in our approach to drowning prevention was needed.

Spurred on by the World Health Organization report that recommended every country should have a national water safety and drowning prevention plan, 29th February 2016 saw Robert Goodwill MP, Minister of State for Transport (at that time) launch the UK Drowning Prevention Strategy at the House of Commons. You can read the Government letter of support and press notice.

Download The UK Drowning Prevention Strategy 2016-2026.


Our aim

To reduce accidental drowning fatalities in the UK by 50% by 2026, and reduce risk amongst the highest risk populations, groups and communities.


Our priority targets

At inception, the Strategy aimed to address the following targets: 

  • Every child should have the opportunity to learn to swim and receive water safety education at primary school and where required at Key Stage 3
  • Every community with water risks should have a community-level risk assessment and water safety plan
  • To better understand water-related self-harm
  • Increase awareness of everyday risks in, on and around the water
  • All recreational activity organisations should have a clear strategic risk assessment and plans that address key risks.


Year-two review of progress

UK Drowning Prevention Strategy Year Two Review

March 2018 marked two years since the launch of the UK’s first drowning prevention strategy, supported by the Government and a wide range of influential organisations. Since that time, a huge amount of effort has been invested in pursuing the five targets outlined in the strategy and this review document describes some of those excellent results.

Download the UK Drowning Prevention Strategy year-two review.



How are we getting on at the mid-way point?

We are now mid-way through the strategy programme and the NWSF will be reviewing its progress and will report back to the members and stakeholders with a Five Year reviewFurther updates will be posted in due course.


How you can help

In order to achieve our aim, we are asking you to go further than simply reading the strategy. By supporting the principles of the strategy and showing your commitment to the goals we will be more effective than ever in reducing drowning fatalities. By targeting groups and activities, we will raise awareness of the risks and ultimately make every community safer.


Please take action.

Support the strategy and make the pledge today.