By Richard Evans
CONWY County Council believe they will be in a stronger position to prosecute ‘reckless’ water-sports enthusiasts riding jet skis after a change in the law.
Speaking at a Conwy harbour advisory committee meeting this week, councillors heard how jet skis are once again classed as ‘vessels’, enabling local authorities to take action against those riding dangerously.
According to Conwy’s harbour master Matthew Forbes, Gwynedd County Council is among the first authorities in the UK to try and bring about a prosecution in line with the new law, and Conwy County Council is watching keenly.
“Members will be aware we have had lots of issues with jet skis over the years with reckless and dangerous behaviour,” Mr Forbes told the harbour committee.
“The problem was there was a court case a number of years ago that decided jet skis were not a vessel in terms of the Merchant Shipping Act so that harbour authorities and port authorities couldn’t bring any prosecutions.
“This was an anomaly. Industry has campaigned for a change in the law. It finally happened, and the new amendment came in on 31 March, which means local authorities, like ourselves, can now prosecute jet skiers when we believe that beyond reasonable doubt that they’ve engaged in reckless behaviour.”
Mr Forbes added: “There was an incident just after the law changed in Gwynedd where someone was seriously injured, and my understanding is that they are going to be one of the first authorities to bring a prosecution, so it’ll be interesting to see how they get on, what standard of proof should be beyond reasonable doubt for what the courts expect, and I’ll update members in due course once that comes to conclusion.”