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Came across this today during searching. OK so it's from 1999, but given the way this year is looking so far in terms of incidents, it seems relevant to me.
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http://www.divernet.com/safety/dyingto299.htm

Dying to Dive

Why was there such a huge increase in the number of diving fatalities last year - and what can be done to prevent such tragedies happening again? Brendan O'Brien investigates

It's the start of the dive season. You've just arrived at a dive site and you're excited at the prospect of getting back in the water. You know what pre-dive procedures should be carried out, but you choose to ignore them.
The dive is going well until disaster strikes. As you sink deeper into the incident pit, you realise that this time you won't be able to pull yourself out. Your breathing becomes erratic as your mind is thrown into chaos. You feel your heart pounding in your chest as the adrenalin rushes through your veins. You realise you're in your worst nightmare and you hear your inner voice asking why it's all going horribly wrong.
You feel alone and scared. Your thoughts are drawn to the visions of a future you'll never see. You imagine your funeral, the crying of grieving friends and relatives, and the soul-destroying burden of guilt carried by your dive buddies...
Are you sure it'll never happen to you?

Weighing up the risk
There were 22 diving-related fatalities in the UK in 1998, the highest recorded figure for 26 years. However, when you compare t number of dives made every year with the number of fatalities,
the risk is estimated to be about one in 200,000.
Surely this statistic is proof that diving is essentially a safe pastime, no different from any other adventure sport?
That may be the case, but don't forget that these people were just like you and me. Now they're dead. Do you believe their friends and relatives care about how safe the sport is when the one
they loved is now part of these statistics?
I would suggest not. I'd go as far as saying that figures such as these are irrelevant. They seem to be quoted year after year by training organisations. Are we trying to comfort ourselves? Or are we perhaps trying to fool ourselves into believing that there is an acceptable number of fatalities?
So why is the number 22 so important? Brian Cumming, the BSAC's Safety and Incidents Adviser, explains: "Twenty-two deaths is a lot, but if people had been following the right guidelines there would, by my reckoning, only have been between two and four fatalities."
This statement is by no means extraordinary. In 1997, the Health and Safety Executive
(HSE) published Scuba Diving: a quantitative risk assessment. In this report, the Paras Research Group collated several years of incident records from the BSAC and the Divers Alert Network (DAN).
The results were shocking. To establish the true nature of diving incidents, the team excluded from the figures all fatalities involving divers who would not have passed a diving medical.
Of the 286 fatalities left, the investigation discovered that all but eight of them were avoidable.
In other words, 278 deaths could have been prevented. The report concluded that all these deaths were "avoidable by a well-trained, intelligent and alert diver, working in an organised structure".

Procedural problems
So what happened in 1998, and why aren't we learning from these incidents? Colin Bryan, National Diving Officer of the Sub-Aqua Association (SAA), suggests that "these fatalities seem to be down to procedural error, for example: diving alone; not being trained for the environment or in equipment use; air management; and decompression diving".
These views are echoed by Brian Cumming: "When you look at our safe diving practices and then look at these incidents, I guess more than 90 per cent transgress one or more of the recommendations in them."
When the circumstances of the majority of the fatalities are examined, it becomes very clear that these are major transgressions: diving solo; diving too deep; diving beyond their level of experience; diving in a three or even a five; re-entry recompression; and inexperience with equipment.
Should we need to say anything about diving solo? It appears so, as five of the fatalities involved divers going it alone. There are those who believe it's OK to dive solo, either for the whole or for part of the dive.
Serious consideration has even been given to it being a safe practice in certain conditions. But what about splitting up from a group of three to explore a cave at 57m when your buddies are above you at 40m?
Or, after a dive to 26m, jumping back in to recover a dropped mask with only 50 bar in your tank, with no fins and without a direct feed attached? Unfortunately, the divers who did these things can't explain to us what they were thinking when they bypassed well-established safe-diving practices.

In deep trouble
Three of this year's fatalities involved diving to depths exceeding 50m. One has already been mentioned, the other two
were using tri-mix at depths of
75m and 85m.
The exploits of serious technical divers are widely covered by the diving press. However, the increase in the popularity of deep technical diving has not come without some major concerns being raised. What is worrying is that these concerns are being ignored by those who really need to take notice.
Mike Harwood of the HSE's diving group has this to say on the issue of technical diving: "Those that carry out dives on the likes of the Britannic do an impeccable job. However, there appears to be an emerging group of divers who believe that they're bulletproof."
The Coastguard and Maritime Agency sees the results of reckless and over-ambitious technical divers. Reg Hill, the CMA's diving officer, is very concerned: "I've seen it myself. They believe that they are experts, having been on a two-day course. The technology and gases involved are widely available. Then they try to copy the real experts. They're going way over the top."
The SAA is the only UK training agency to be affiliated to the International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers (IANTD)
and Technical Diving International (TDI). Colin Bryan of the SAA believes that technical diving can be safe if the guidelines are adhered to. "These pioneers have been carrying out technical diving for years," he says. "Hours of planning go into their projects, with build-up dives, numerous equipment checks and safety divers on stand-by. However, there are those who think: 'I can do that'. With the money to purchase the equipment and a course under their belt, they believe they're ready for deep dives. Eventually they're going to kill themselves."
Brian Cumming effectively summed up the issue of deep diving at the 1998 Underwater World conference in Harrogate. "This year we've seen six incidents at 50m plus, and three of these were fatalities. Amateur divers need to realise that if you have an incident at these depths it's going to be very serious."
Rebreather reality
The subject of rebreathers has received a vast amount of attention recently. However, in examining their use it's worth mentioning
the circumstances of the three rebreather fatalities as reported in the BSAC's Incidents Report 1998.
The first involved the 75m dive where the deceased was conducting a tri-mix rebreather dive as part of a group of three. The second involved another group of three where there was a separation on a wreck dive to 34m. In the third, the deceased deliberately separated from his
two buddies towards the end of the dive to recover a piece of dropped equipment.
In all these dives, there have been two common denominators: the use of the rebreather, and a decision to ignore safe diving practices. Could the latter be the prime cause of these fatalities? The extent to which this may be true isn't clear, because at the time of writing these fatalities are still awaiting the results of inquests. However, this hasn't stopped those involved in the industry passing comment.
The SAA offers what it believes to be the best training in the world for this equipment. Colin Bryan adds an important rider to this: "You may be a good technical diver, but you won't be ready for the same dives on a rebreather. It's very much like going from a car to a high-powered superbike."
He goes on to say: "One of our members has had a closed-circuit rebreather for several months. He did his course at the same time as one of the divers who later died using the same type of rebreather on a deep dive. Although he's an accomplished technical diver, he's still practising 20m dives with his rebreather. I believe that there may be some gung-ho divers out there who are allowing themselves to be pushed into dives they're not ready for."
Brian Cumming gives the BSAC's opinion on the closed-circuit rebreather: "It's a very complex piece of equipment, both mechanically and electronically. There is clearly the potential for problems with maintenance, manufacturing, design and usage."
Could it be the usage that is the problem? Like any piece of equipment, safe diving practices need to be adhered to. This includes becoming fully competent in the use of any new equipment. Is it the case that we're not learning from the rise in fatalities whenever a new type of equipment or procedure is introduced, as was the case with the increased use of drysuits in the '70s?

Clubbing together
The subject of "orphan" divers was raised again by Brian Cumming at the 1998 Diving Officers' conference. This is the phrase that he has used over the past few years to describe a growing group of UK divers.
But what exactly does he mean when he refers to an orphan diver? "They're responsible for some of the shallow-water fatalities. They've done a short diving course, so they know a little bit. Then they want to go diving. As they learnt together, they do the easiest thing, which is to go to a quarry, jump in and go diving. They don't have support from more experienced people, so they get themselves into trouble."
Brian Cumming uses this group of divers and others to support the view that you're far safer diving in a club environment. Indeed, every year the BSAC compares the number of fatalities among BSAC and non-BSAC divers. This year, there were six BSAC fatalities out of the 22. In 1997, the ratio was four BSAC to 12 non-BSAC.
Do these non-BSAC statistics include BSAC members diving outside branch activity or ex-BSAC members? "I'm fairly certain that none of them were BSAC or ex-BSAC members," claims Brian. "Certainly the bulk of them had nothing to do with the BSAC."
Brian also compares the statistics from the past two years to previous years. "For non-BSAC fatalities we expect an average per year of about six - what we're seeing now is almost three times that. Do you honestly believe that 70 per cent of the diving in this country takes place outside the BSAC? This indicates that you're safer inside a club environment."
Mark Caney, the UK managing director of PADI International, the world's largest diver training organisation, questions the BSAC's use of these figures: "Trying to say that these fatalities are BSAC or that these are PADI isn't very productive, and in any case we wouldn't agree. Our records certainly don't indicate figures anything like this." Mark later informs me that seven of the fatalities had been PADI trained.
"We would agree that it's safer to dive with an organisation and to follow safe diving practices," he continues. "In relation to what Brian calls orphan divers, if they're doing this they aren't following what we reinforce constantly in our training. We do have some examples of this. As a result, we're trying to reinforce through magazines, our instructors, the PADI Dive Society and with notices at popular dive sites that any change of environment or equipment, such as drysuits,
needs local training."
It's clear that urgent action must be taken to halt the rising number of orphan divers. Reg Hill of the Coastguard and Maritime Agency is becoming increasingly concerned: "These people are drifting around with no direction, the depth of knowledge is not there and they're not capable of planning dives. We even see groups of trainee divers from the same dive school going diving without any experience in their ranks. There is a need to belong to a group where there is experience that you can learn from, such as the BSAC or SAA."
But what effect is this increase having on the Coastguard and Maritime Agency? "The senior officers in my organisation are beginning to take note of the number of diving incidents and
the strain they are creating on our resources," replies Reg Hill.
Is the raising of these issues at this level the precursor to regulatory legislation being introduced to make the sport safer?
With the increase in the media's reporting of diving incidents, this must be seen as
a distinct possibility.

Learning lessons
So what of this year's increase in fatalities? There is nothing in the BSAC's Incidents Report to suggest that this was an unlucky year. Could the figures have been a lot higher?
Colin Bryan believes so. "We've been very lucky in previous years. We just continue to get away with it. Every incident is potentially lethal," he claims.
Brian Cumming is prepared to quantify what he calls the near misses. "There could have been another dozen fatalities, but that's not unusual."
Despite all of this, there are still those who choose to disregard the lessons that need to be learnt from these deaths.
Margaret Baldwin from Stoney Cove dive centre has experienced the aftermath of several fatal incidents. She can't believe the recklessness of some divers. "We discovered that there was a man diving solo with a rebreather in the water. We didn't know where he was or what he was doing. After he surfaced, we spoke to him about this practice. We couldn't believe it - he wanted to go back in and do another solo dive! This is the sort of behaviour that causes the incidents," she says.
Maybe you're new to diving and have heard your diving companions talk of numerous near- misses. Or perhaps you are one of those divers who has had some lucky escapes? Think about your behaviour in the past. Diving is a great experience, but don't let it be your last.


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How to reduce the risks
"We're publicising the Incidents Report as much as we can, so that people can avoid making the same mistakes. We've also just launched a programme inviting any divers to BSAC branches to join in refresher courses so that they can improve their diving and rescue skills. We're throwing the doors open - they don't have to be BSAC members or join the BSAC. Use the branch structure and the experience of other club members, and stick to the safe diving practices of your
training organisation." - Brian Cumming, BSAC


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"We're constantly reviewing our training and looking for any trends that would indicate a need for change. Last year we launched our Safe Diving in the UK programme to reinforce the need for additional training to prepare for the UK's conditions. We're also meeting with the BSAC to see if there is anything we can do in joint co-operation. We are always reinforcing the message to keep within safe diving practices." - Mark Caney, PADI


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"We're working with CMAS to produce an annual incident report that will look at worldwide trends in incidents. We're also pushing the club environment, where a progressive training atmosphere exists. We'll be running build-up dives in the pool for March/April where I'd hope to see all divers testing their equipment and practising rescue drills. I'd like to remind all divers that this is a risk sport.
If you don't respect the water, it will kill you. We have to take the appropriate precautions and risk-assess every dive. I'd suggest that at the moment 80 per cent of divers don't even formulate any kind of risk assessment prior to a dive. There's a lot to be learnt from the HSE and their Safe Diving at Work Regulations.
I'm recommending to our diving officers that we follow many of the commercial divers' codes of practice. Keep practising your drills - what you learnt 10 years ago may not save you now. Remember, you're in a hostile environment and need to constantly assess your situation." - Colin Bryan, SAA


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"We're running a Sunday dive-experience programme for refresher training. Generally, I'd say the standard of the divers we see here is very high. However, that shouldn't mean that you should slack off. I'd recommend that people keep training in their drills, just like paramedics do. Don't dive beyond your experience."
- Glynne Pusey, Manager of Horsea Island Dive Centre


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"If the pre-dive plan conditions can't be met, then don't dive. If things aren't as planned, have the sense and courage to admit it. If in doubt, don't dive or abort
the dive - it's far better to live to dive another day. Follow the advice of the recreational agency whose qualifications you hold. Remember, holding a particular diving qualification doesn't mean you're going to remain a competent diver at that qualification level unless you practise the skills on which you were assessed. Putting it bluntly, don't let your ego exceed your talent."
- Commander Ralph Mavin, RN (retired), HSE Chief Inspector of Diving


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"Most incidents are caused by people exceeding their capabilities, technically or physically, or simply being reckless. They could have been avoided if those people had been capable of carrying out their dive within the codes of practice of their organisation." - Reg Hill, Diving Officer, Coastguard and Maritime Agency


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"We've introduced the diver registration scheme, which pushes people towards safe diving practices. If people stayed within these, we wouldn't have nearly as many problems. In the future, if anyone insists on carrying out any unsafe practices, we will, with the registration scheme, be able to refuse access to Stoney Cove. Most of these incidents could have been avoided. We see the end result and the relatives coming on the anniversaries of the deaths to lay flowers. This is what most people don't see and we'd like to work towards avoiding in the future."
- Margaret Baldwin, Manager of Stoney Cove Dive Centre

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Appeared in DIVER - February 1999
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] ]deaths were "avoidable by a well-trained, intelligent and alert diver, working in an organised structure"
Cool. That's me safe forever then. Anyone fancy a dive to 50m next weekend?


BSAC incident reports - is it only me that find these a little bit dificult to find? Getting the most recent reports generally involves Google and a bit of rooting around.

Maybe BSAC could consider publishing incident reports in the magazines, a page a month, or making them a bit more visible on the website.. I don't know of any divers offhand that don't get at least one diving mag.
 

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<font color='#000080'>They issue them at the Diving Officers Conference as far as I know. When your DO or a local DO gets back, ask to see it, I can't imagine many DOs refusing a loan of the report even for non-members. Personally, I'd ask for a deposit of some sort, just to make sure it was returned after an agreed time, but I'd lend it to anyone that asked for it.

You can get it from BSAC I think. Why not give HQ a bell? There might be a cost to cover the printing costs, but it won't be much. It's a very useful document to read, and hopefully will prevent future accidents. Fortunately, all too often accidents are preventable, and it's a real shame tha people don't listen to training agencies and take note. They've done this for a fair while, so should be pretty good at preventing problems by now.

How mnay people actually do a buddy check with someone they've not dived with either ever or for a while? OK, if I dive with my buddy every week and his kits the same, we do a quick run-through, but if someone hasn't dived with me in the twins, or if I'm using a slightly different harness I check it for me, as well as them.

SO often people think it's something to boast about that they don't need to do checks, or they don't need to do their drills. I think the DIR boys are on the right track here, and they are to be commended for the best safety record I know of, and for as long as they are doing this, their safety record will be much better than some of the gung-ho divers out there. It's a shame but I tend to meet a lot of these through the mainstream training agencies, BSAC and PADI. In almost equal measure. And as these make up the majority of divers, we need to be reinforcing what we teach again and again, and putting safety right at the top of every dives priorities. Always.
 

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In 1997, the Health and Safety Executive
                        (HSE) published Scuba Diving: a quantitative risk assessment. In this report, the Paras Research Group
                        collated several years of incident records from the BSAC and the Divers Alert Network (DAN).
                        The results were shocking.
Quick quote from Steve's Diver article.
The Paras report was jointly funded by the Scientific Diving Supervisory Committee and the HSE. The origonal idea we had was to prepare a quantative r.a. of Scientific and Archaeological diving. A problem rapidly became apparent to Paras, there weren't enough incidents in the Scientific and Archaeology community to allow any conclusions to be drawn. This established the point that the report was commissioned for, but was'nt a lot for £16,000. So they then looked at the recreational side, because they, essentially, use the same diving kit as the sc.&ar. sector. Only the rules and discipline are different.
 

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The King Of The Divan
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Hmm, not that hard to find methinks as I was looking at it last week and I am a technophobe


there is a link to it on the front page of www.bsac.org which also contains back numbers as well. Look under the Keeping You Infomed section.

Have to say i dont like how it has been put together though ie links to different topic types but that is probably just me.

Simon
 

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Just a legal point, Steve; you can't post full articles like this because they are copyrighted.  Just a link and synopsis would be better.
 

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<font color='#0000FF'>
[b said:
Quote[/b] ]Should we need to say anything about diving solo? It appears so, as five of the fatalities involved divers going it alone
The pedant in me has to point out that this means that 17 out of the 22 fatalities were diving with a buddy.
Ergo buddy diving is more dangerous.



Of course I don't believe this, but its a good example of the rubbish that some people trot out to support whateverargument they are advocating.......

Fee
 

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<font color='#000080'>I think that we get a fairly bad press.  Scuba diving is still seen as a glam sport - James Bond eat your heart out.  When someone dies it makes the news.  Helicopters, lifeboats, Coastguards etc etc.  
Plus the other thing is, when it goes nipples skywards, it tends to do so in spectacular fashion.  If we screw up then we stand a very real risk of going to meet the grim diver.
 

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DUE CEO, Booking agent, Coffee maker & Dogsbody...
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Going back to the reports accessability, yes its given out at the Diving Officers Conference  (20 November this year), and there are usually a few extra copies floating around that DO's can grab, i usually try to get a few extra to put on the notice board and lend out to club members.

I think it takes a couple of weeks or so after that before its on the web site. I think it was in an obscure location on there a while ago, but was made more promenant recently.

It is only as accurate as the reporting allows, so many incidents (As Peter K pointed out a few months ago) will not be mentioned as many divers do not report even fairly major incidents 'cos they aint in the reporting procedure ie BSAC/MCA/DDRC.

I suspect the highlighted point of poor skills would be even more so if everytime there was a mistake/incident during DSMB deployment it was reported, to cover just one skill.

I agree totally with Digger that skills must be practiced as it does not take long for skills fade to set in.

Dive Safe

Paul

I would add that the incident i was involved in last year was a qualified diver, diving within his limits in 10m vis, in perfect sea conditions, haveing done a progressive build up and a detailed buddy check and followed an agreed very simple plan that was not progressing beyond his previouse experience but was consolidating it. He just had a very, very bad day. (Although no damage done
)
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] ]its given out at the Diving Officers Conference  
Great - but for all the people in the country who AREN'T BSAC members..?

My point was that the kind of people who'll go looking for the incident reports are the dedicated divers that are less likely to have incidents in the first place.

What's needed is for the divers who aren't willing to make an effort to be given the reports - it increases the chance they'll read them and realise they aren't bulletproof after all.
 

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<font color='#0000FF'>
[b said:
Quote[/b] (Dominic @ Mar. 16 2004,08:54)]My point was that the kind of people who'll go looking for the incident reports are the dedicated divers that are less likely to have incidents in the first place.

What's needed is for the divers who aren't willing to make an effort to be given the reports - it increases the chance they'll read them and realise they aren't bulletproof after all.
Dominic

I resent the implication of this statement.  Incidents happen, in my case trying to assist my buddy.

Fiona
 

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<font color='#0000FF'>The implication that "dedicated divers" what ever they are, are less likely to have an incident.

I have read the reports for years, I don't need to go looking for them I know where they are.  

Fiona
 

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Divers who are dedicated to being as safe as possible are less likely to have an incident than the "I've got a C-card, I've got the techie gear, I'm invulnerable" brigade. This is incontestable.

I still fail to see your point.
 

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DUE CEO, Booking agent, Coffee maker & Dogsbody...
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Dominic

Yes i see your point on the distribution, but to send out rain forrests worth of the report would cost a huge amount. It is the BSAC report and even their branches only realy get 1 each, I know your clubs is usually on your notice board, so there for all to see.

Maybe the idea of a summary in Dive or Diver each month may help. I think also the compilation is done on a voluntary basis by Brian, so how much more time to do monthly releases?

I do however think that the idea has a lot of merit.


Dive Safe

Paul
 

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Dominic, I don't know if this is the point, but what I've seen/dealt with is a diver(s) who probably would'nt have had the faintest problem - if they had'nt ( i.e had abandoned) their buddy.
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (Paul Oliver @ Mar. 16 2004,12:57)]Maybe the idea of a summary in Dive or Diver each month may help.
Exactly!
so much of what goes into all the diving press is the "happy-clappy woo-yay diving's great int it?"  
Which is understandable as they're trying to promote the sport and theirselves and generally in this life most folk simply don't want to know about the bad side of any topic.

I know, because when I give a lecture the trainees can play "buzzword bingo" to see how many times I can get "death" into a lecture and they think I'm being overly morbid, but as I tell them over and over again, "I'm reminding you it's potentially dangerous so that you'll be safer and hopefully live to enjoy it longer"

I agree, there's definately a place for some form of "running commentary" and perhaps that way folk may be encouraged/reminded to be a bit more safe, although the one thing any Editor is going to want to steer away from is undue haste in  discussing a fatality, especially when facts may not have been sufficiently well determined by the proper authorities.
 

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Relying on one agency to monitor accidents is questionable anyway - what about everyone else?  

I'm all for the constant publishing of accident reports.

So, what's the best way?  

Can I suggest a simple start point, rather than trying for anything too global?  There are lots of people who read this board, and more are coming.  I suggest a simple report form online, where the outlines of an incident can be entered.

It can be anonymous if that helps the legal situation.  As it is unverified, statistics would show trends rather than exact numbers.  But, it's multi-agency, UK-centric and fits with the frankness and honesty that most people post here with because they know they won't get much of a slagging.  And as it would be easy to do, it is more likely to be done...

If a report form is too long-winded, then a glorified poll would do, with tick boxes against the relevant options.

Would add kudos to the site...

Up to Jay really as he'd have the hard work of designing the form to do...
 
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