Calls for Licensing System Sparked by Jason's Death; TRIPS: Certification of Leaders and Equipment Sought

Article excerpt

THE death of teenager Jason Dalton on a college adventure trip has highlighted calls for schools and colleges to be brought under the strict licensing code covering commercially-run trips.

As reported by The Western Mail yesterday, Jason's family is now considering legal action against Ystrad Mynach College near Caerphilly after an inquest heard evidence that last year's ill-fated trip to Dinas Rock in the Neath Valley had been led by an unqualified and ill-equipped teacher.

Jason drowned after plunging into a pool to try to save teacher Alun Davies and fellow student David Edwards who had both been dragged underwater by whirlpools.

The deaths of four teenagers in the 1993 canoeing tragedy at Lyme Bay on the Dorset coast first prompted the introduction of a national registration scheme for providers of outdoor pursuits, particularly those responsible for the safety of schoolchildren.

The parents of the victims launched a campaign for statutory regulation, lobbying MPs and the then Secretary of State for Education, John Patten, but the Government maintained that its two-yearly inspection plan was adequate and that statutory accreditation was unnecessary.

At a subsequent trial of the owners and managers of the activity centre that organised the canoeing expedition, the judge, Mr Justice Ognall, called for an immediate and thorough appraisal of the running of activity centres and said ``the vagaries of selfregulation'' would not prevent injury or death.

Further lobbying by campaigners led to the introduction of the Activity Centres (Young Persons' Safety) Act 1995 and the formation in 1996 of an independent body, the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority. …