Safety warning around the River Ness

Published 13 August 2019

Partner agencies working in Inverness city centre are urging the public to be mindful of the potential dangers of entering the River Ness.

Police Scotland, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) and The Highland Council are encouraging people to treat the river with respect at all


It follows recent incidents on the river, including a man who had to be rescued near Bught Park in a multi-agency response following an event on Saturday, June 8.

The man was recovered and taken to Raigmore Hospital, fortunately having suffered no serious injuries.

The SFRS and Police Scotland have attended 17 water related incidents so far in 2019 in the Highland area - seven of which involved water rescue within the city of Inverness.

Sergeant Julie Connor, of the Inverness City Centre Policing Team, said: "The River Ness is an iconic and beautiful feature in Inverness but it needs to be treated with respect.

"The river is fast flowing and cold so anyone who enters it can quickly be overwhelmed.

"Many incidents which result in people entering the river come after the consumption of alcohol. In many places the banks of the river are steep and it is possible to accidentally fall into the river, especially if you have been drinking.

"Being under the influence of alcohol reduces your ability to react safely so please be careful around the water if you have been drinking.

"We want people to be able to enjoy the riverside safely -what starts out as a bit of fun could easily end with tragic consequences if care isn't taken."

Deryck Mackay, Inverness City Station Manager for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said “We have noticed an increase in the number of people going into the River Ness after a night out.

"So far in 2019 over 40% of our water related incidents has involved water rescue in the city.”

SM Mackay added “Alcohol consumption can impair your judgement and control and going into a river at night when its dark also makes it difficult for you to be seen.

"Cold water shock is a real danger, especially in the cold water of the River Ness, and you can quickly find yourself in trouble. Our advice is stay out of the water.”

SFRS Local Authority Liaison Officer for the Highland area, Watch Manager Martyn Cooper added “Today’s training event allows us to work together with our colleagues at Police Scotland, and the council, demonstrating some of the tactics we employ at water rescue incidents.”

Provost of Inverness and Area, Councillor Helen Carmichael said: “I am pleased to see this water awareness event taking place, which The Highland Council is supporting. 

"Sensible and safe enjoyment of the river environment is important and the Inverness Community Safety Partnership is committed to ensuring that all agencies work collaboratively to ensure that the health and safety of all of us remains of high importance.

"This initiative by one of our key partners is a good example of that commitment.

"Also from time to time the council places closure notices at the Infirmary Bridge and Ness Islands for public safety reasons and we would ask people to take heed of these notices for their own safety.”

Contact Details

Call 101 for non-emergencies and general policing matters, in an emergency call 999. If you have information about a crime you can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

If your email enquiry is relating to the UK or Scottish Governments coronavirus guidance please refer to If it is a medical enquiry regarding coronavirus please refer to

Your Community

Find out more about local policing issues in this area by visiting: Highlands and Islands, Inverness

Originally Published: