Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Farrell said a total of 10 people were rescued from the water
Dorset Police has so far released only limited information in its investigation into the deaths of two children in Bournemouth. A 17-year-old boy and girl, 12, died after being pulled from the sea around the resort town’s famous pier.
Bournemouth beach a day after the children’s deaths
A man aged in his 40s who was on the water at the time was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter on Wednesday.
Dorset Police Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Farrell said at a press conference on Thursday that officers are investigating the “circumstances or event” which caused 10 people to get into difficulty in the water.
She said: “As we have a person in custody, you will know there is only limited information I can give about the investigation.
“However, to avoid further speculation, I am able to tell you that it’s clear that yesterday a number of people already in the water got into difficulty and we are investigating the circumstances or event that caused that to happen.
Flowers left at the scene
People sitting on the beach today
“Early investigation indicates that there was no physical contact between a vessel and any of the swimmers at the time of the incident.
“I can also confirm there is no suggestion of people jumping from the pier or jet skis being involved.”
Why can’t Dorset Police say more about what happened?
This is because of the arrest. When someone is arrested in a criminal case it becomes “active” with the definite prospect of a person facing trial.
If the media publishes anything which creates a substantial risk of serious prejudice or that acts as a barrier to legal proceedings, then this could result in contempt. The biggest risk of committing contempt is to publish anything which could prejudice a fair trial.
Under the Contempt of Court Act 1981, a publication includes anything written, spoken or broadcast to the public. Breaching the Act is punishable and can result in an unlimited fine or a maximum two-year jail sentence.
The law of contempt protects the process of justice and the principle that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The Act doesn’t detail what type of things can cause a risk of prejudice or impediment, but case law shows suggestions a suspect is dishonest or bad character counts.
Any suggestion he or she is guilty and evidence which appears to link the suspect directly to a crime could also be seen as contempt.
It might also be contempt to publish a detailed account from a witness or a photograph of a suspect if a witness is expected to testify over identification at a trial.
During Thursday’s press conference, Assistant Chief Constable Farrell urged people not to speculate about what happened in Bournemouth.
She added people should send any images to police rather than sharing them on social media.
Assistant Chief Constable Farrell said: “As you can imagine, we are at the early stages of our investigation, and we would ask people not to speculate about the circumstances surrounding the incident to both protect our inquiries and out of respect for the victims and their families.
“We are aware of a number of videos circulating on social media and we would urge people to refrain from doing this.
“We know the beach was very busy when the incident occurred. I am today urging anyone who saw what happened or has any information that may assist to please come forward.”
A view of Bournemouth Pier
She added: “This operation is named Operation Marble. So please share the images with the police rather than on social media.”
So far Dorset Police has confirmed it received a report from paramedics at around 4.30pm on Wednesday of people in need of help on the beach near Bournemouth Pier.
Emergency services attended the scene and 10 people were recovered from the water.
The force said that a 17-year-old boy from Southampton and a 12-year-old girl from Buckinghamshire sustained “critical injuries” and later died in hospital, while the other eight people were treated for injuries that were not life-threatening.
A man aged in his 40s, who was “on the water” at the time, has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, according to police.
A force spokesman said on Thursday: “We continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the tragic incident that occurred yesterday resulting in the deaths of a 12-year-old girl and 17-year-old boy.
“We are working with partner agencies to understand what has caused the tragedy. However, early investigation indicates that there was no physical contact between a vessel and any swimmers at the time of the incident.
“We are investigating the circumstances that caused a number of swimmers to get into difficulty. Further information will be released as the investigation progresses.”
It came after speculation online that a jet ski was involved in the incident. Further speculation about the children jumping off the pier was also ruled out by the force.