Another cliff plunge: what should be done?

RAF Sea King searching the cliff and coastline''w134521c
RAF Sea King searching the cliff and coastline''w134521c

Police have admitted they are concerned about how to stop people jumping or falling off cliffs at the Abbey Plain, after what is believed to have been the second suicide in a fortnight.

Following Sunday morning’s tragedy which saw a young mum in her 20s plunge to her death, Whitby police have said they are looking to see if anything can be done to help prevent future deaths.

She was from the Halifax area and had only recently given birth.

After the incident was reported to police, shortly after 8am on Sunday, a search involving several coastguard teams and the Sea King search and rescue helicopter was scrambled as it was feared the baby might be nearby.

Teams scoured the grounds of Whitby Abbey and the graveyard at St Mary’s Church, but it was called off soon after when it was confirmed the baby was at home, safe and well.

A post-mortem examination on the woman, who has not yet been named by police, was set to take place yesterday before formal identification could take place.

The following day West Yorkshire Police issued an appeal for a taxi driver who took a woman from Halifax town centre at around 4am on Sunday morning to Whitby.

The incident comes just two weeks after pensioner John Leckonby from Great Ayton fell 80 feet down the cliffs at a similar spot.

Earlier this summer a policewoman fell from the top of the cliffs but survived the fall.

Mr Leckonby’s family told the Gazette at the time that they believed he intended to take his own life and came to Whitby because he loved the area and this is a trend that officers are looking into.

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police said: “What we generally find is that you get people who have very fond memories of Whitby, such as family holidays, and they come back to places that they have fond memories of and unfortunately tragic circumstances then ensue.

“What we don’t want is a stigma to become attached but it is something we are aware of and we will be looking at the patterns and what is happening. Each one of the circumstances is different and a lot is down to human nature. It is very difficult. We are looking at discussing with our partners if this is a problem, is it a one-off that there have been two in a fortnight and where we go from here.”