YMCA Fairthorne Group fined following successful prosecution by Winchester City Council

YMCA Fairthorne Group have been fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £200,000 costs  following an incident where a 11-year-old girl was rendered unconscious when her neck became entangled in safety equipment after falling from the Burma rope bridge in July 2012.


The incident was investigated by Winchester City Council Environmental Health Officers after the girl was left suspended by the safety equipment until an emergency rescue was initiated which involved her being cut free and dropped into the water below. She was then flown by air ambulance to hospital where she was put into an induced coma and later made a full recovery.


A prosecution was brought against the YMCA Fairthorne Group under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 for failing to ensure the safety of those in its care and also under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 for failing to ensure their employees had received adequate health and safety training.


The jury delivered a verdict of guilty against YMCA Fairthorne Group for failing to deliver on its general duty to protect the health and safety to persons other than their employees, but was unable to reach a verdict on whether they had or had not provided adequate training for employees.


On 3 November 2017, at Portsmouth Crown Court, Judge Pearson imposed a financial penalty of £30,000 on the YMCA Fairthorne Group. Prosecution costs in the sum of £200,000 were also awarded.


Leader of Winchester City Council, councillor Caroline Horrill said:

“The penalty imposed upon the YMCA Fairthorne Group at Portsmouth Crown Court today reflects the seriousness with which the Courts consider Health and Safety failings, especially by organisations that have children and young people in their care. Thankfully, the child involved in this incident suffered no long term effects, but as a City Council we had a duty to ensure that the YMCA Fairthorne Group was held to account for the incident and that they accepted that proper procedures need to be followed.


The public have a right to expect high standards of safety and training to be provided. Organisations who do not meet the required standards and who put people at risk need to accept that this comes with consequences.”