HC Deb 04 March 1901 vol 90 cc381-2
MR. JAMES REID (Greenock)

I beg to ask the Lord Advocate if he is aware that a young man named John Kennedy was drowned on the 16th instant while skating on the reservoir known as Compensation Dam, Greenock; that the said reservoir is the property of the Water Trust of Greenock, but is within the police jurisdiction of the authorities of the county of Renfrew; that no police were present; that no life-saving apparatus was available; that those present who gallantly endeavoured to save the young man's life stated that if such apparatus had been available his life could have been saved; and that the said reservoir is largely used in time of frost by the inhabitants of Greenock and district; and if he will give such instructions as may probably prevent a recurrence of similar accidents.


As regards the lamentable accident referred to by the hon. Member, I understand, from a report which I have received from the Chief Constable, that two life-belts are kept in a sluice-house adjoining the dam, provided by the Water Trust officials, and there also is a rope. All the employees of the Water Trust have a key to this sluice-house, as also the constable of the district. Although the constable had been in the neighbourhood of the dam on the two previous days, he was unfortunately not there on the day of the accident, having been detailed for special duty at a funeral at Wemyss Bay. As a heavy thaw had set in, he thought no one could possibly venture on the ice, and therefore did not apply for a constable to take his place. It would, as the hon. Member can understand, be impossible for the police to watch all the many reservoirs and dams within their jurisdiction and be responsible for warning persons against their own foolhardiness—a duty which is not imposed on them by any Statute. But the chief constable proposes to communicate with the engineer of the Water Trust of Greenock, to the effect that if he will at any time notify to the county police that in his opinion there is danger of accidents to venturesome people at the reservoirs within their jurisdiction, a police constable will be detailed to warn them of their danger.