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Keeping families seaside safe

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Sandi Starfish is back on the north west Norfolk coast for the tenth year running to help families keep their children safe.The campaign was launched in 2014 following an idea from Norfolk Constabulary’s former PCSO Sandi Greenacre, who was a valued member of the team in Hunstanton.Parents and carers are being encouraged to learn exactly what to do if their child goes missing while they are visiting the beach at Hunstanton or Heacham.

The launch of Sandi Starfish seaside safety campaign this week with representatives from Norfolk Police, Hunstanton RNLI, West Norfolk Council resorts team and Cllr Jo Rust. Picture: RNLI

Posters and signs are on display across the coastal areas highlighting simple steps and leaflets are also being distributed to holiday parks, tourist attractions, shops and cafes.Inspector Ben Jarvis said: “Our coastline here in West Norfolk is a wonderful place to visit and lots of families enjoy spending time here every summer. “Whilst we have very few instances where children get separated from their parents we want to do everything we can to make sure that when it does happen they are reunited with their grown-ups as quickly as possible.“There are some simple steps you can take when you arrive. Take a photo of your child when you arrive so you have an up-to-date photo of what they are wearing.“When you do settle somewhere on the beach make sure you know which Sandi zone you are in, this is really helpful for the emergency services if we do need to find you.“Try to arrange a meeting place for you all, ideally somewhere easy to spot from a distance away. “Finally, if you do get separated from your child then please call 999 as it is an emergency.“Children do occasionally wander off and although the vast majority of missing children are found very quickly, it is still a traumatic experience. “Sandi saw how distressing it can be when parents and children become separated and was keen to help families stay safe on the beach. Very sadly, Sandi passed away in 2013 so I’m delighted that 10 years on this scheme is still helping families and continuing Sandi’s legacy.”Sandi Starfish is supported by West Norfolk Council and Jo Rust, cabinet member for people and communities, said: “Thankfully we do not get many lost children, but when it happens, it can be distressing for everyone involved. “The borough council has been working in partnership with Norfolk Police on this scheme for the last 10 years and it continues to help reunite lost children with their parents on West Norfolk beaches.”Kate Craven, water safety officer for the RNLI in North Norfolk, said: “Our coastline is to be enjoyed, our boathouse is open 11am to 3pm Monday to Saturday and visitors see the station as a beacon to aid in the instance of a missing child. “Our boathouse attendees often see a panicked parent and with the zones clearly marked (our beach entrance is zone 9), we can do our bit to signpost to the emergency services to allow the police and Coastguard to get to the incident really quickly.” There isn’t a wristband scheme in operation again this year.As part of this popular seaside scheme, the coastal area from South Beach in Heacham to Holme-next-the-Sea is divided into 10 Sandi Starfish Zones.There is also the option to use What3words GPS coordinates.

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