Baroness Sayeeda Warsi backs Think Don’t Swim campaign

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi backs Think Don’t Swim campaign

Published in The York Press, Friday 3rd August 2012 by Jennifer BellConservative Party Chairman Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, right, and Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Julia Mulligan stand by the plaque to the memory of Richard Horrocks who died trying to swim across the River Ouse

A GOVERNMENT minister has vowed to spread The Press’s Think Don’t Swim message as she backed our river safety campaign.

Conservative Party Co-Chairman Baroness Sayeeda Warsi yesterday watched the emotive eight-minute video aimed at raising awareness of the dangers of York’s waterways which The Press launched as part of our river awareness campaign following the death of bartender Richard Horrocks.

The Conservative peer viewed the film in silence in Revolution – close to where the 21-year-old barman drowned after jumping into the water from a balcony a year ago.

When it finished she said: “It is very hard-hitting. With a video like this the message can go viral.”

She pledged to post a link to the video and the video’s message on her dedicated twitter page which has 3,270 followers.

Steve Hughes, managing editor of The Press, said afterwards: “I hope Baroness Warsi’s colleagues share her support for our important campaign and spread the word further about this film. We would love it to be shown in every school and college in the country.”

Baroness Warsi was visiting York as the start of a campaign to meet local conservative police and crime commissioner candidates across the country.

Together with Julia Mulligan, Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) candidate for North Yorkshire, she visited the Safer York Partnership to talk about local police priorities before visiting the plaque outside Revolution which serves as a memorial to Mr Horrocks’ life, as well as a stark warning to others that a moment of madness could cost a life.

Speaking ahead of Baroness Warsi’s visit earlier in the day, Richard’s mother, Vicki Horrocks, said she hoped the Government would one day give the river safety message the same importance as road safety within schools and colleges across the UK.

Baroness Warsi said she thought the Think Don’t Swim message could be shared by the local safer neighbourhood partnership with other similar cities and areas where the message would be relevant, with the video potentially to be shown in schools, colleges and universities across the country.

“This would be the whole point of local police and crime commissioners to sort out local priorities like this,” she said. “I am a firm believer in this. In a city like York – where I used to live – the river is part and parcel of every day of life.”

North Yorkshire PCC candidate Mrs Mulligan vowed, if elected, to also spread the message of Think Don’t Swim campaign. She said: “I am not an ivory tower sort of candidate. I want to go out and deliver the message and make important issues like this a priority.

“I understand the video has more than 4,000 online views already, but I want that to be more. I want more people to see it and to spread the message. Word of mouth is one of the strongest weapons.”

Baroness Warsi said she believed the PCCs, once elected, would lead to greater transparency, democracy and accountability within the police force.

Mrs Mulligan said: “This is a chance for a fresh start. I think we need to make the police force as open and transparent as possible.”