Volunteer ‘mountain inquisitors’ are being sought to help reduce casualty numbers on Britain’s peaks.
There are many factors that play a part in creating call outs to the UK’s mountain rescue teams: poor weather, rock fall, ill health and plain bad luck just to name a few. Any of these can lead to even the most experienced hillwalker having to dial 999 to seek assistance. But what about the inexperienced hillwalker? What about those people whose mishaps are a result of poor planning, bad decision making or inappropriate equipment choices? Is there a way to reduce the number of potentially preventable incidents occurring in the UK hills?
A Lincolnshire based group believes it can do just that. The Accident Reduction and Safety Enforcement Society sets out to stop incompetent members of the public from becoming a rescue statistic by preventing them setting foot on the hill. The plan is a simple one: appointed ‘mountain inquisitors’ will be installed in car parks at key mountain locations. Their job will be to quiz would-be walkers on various subjects in order to ascertain whether or not they are safe to be set wandering about the hills.
On an individual basis there's certainly nothing wrong with querying someone you believe is under equipped, underprepared, and walking into danger. Indeed, it's what a responsible hill-goer should do (although don’t expect to be thanked for it). But is there really any need for an organised brigade of inquisitors? Derek Chuffington-Killjoy, a founding member of the society, thinks a more militant approach is the only way to ensure nobody slips through the net.
"It's easy to spot the obvious candidates," Derek explains. "High-heels, crop-tops, hot-pants – and then there's the women. But we don’t like to single people out, so we’re going to check everybody, even if they're wearing Rab."
Example competency questions
- Do you consider yourself an experienced hillwalker?
- Do you have a map and compass and the knowledge to use them?
- How much were your waterproofs?
- Can you list seventeen uses for a length of paracord?
- What other "proper" mountains have you climbed?
- Can you name five mountains in Scotland that aren’t called Ben?
- Are those boots last season’s?
- What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?
The group will be deployed throughout the UK, initially tasking itself with policing the slopes of Castle Crag, Roseberry Topping and Arthur’s Seat. “We’d like to cover more hills, but there’s only the three of us at the moment and Arthur’s knees aren’t what they used to be.” This lack of numbers means the group are looking for more volunteers willing to spend weekends lurking in car parks and interrogating trekkers.
But should anyone fail the test, what powers do the group actually have to eject people from the mountains. “None at all” Roger answers. “No, we can’t actually stop anybody. We’ve asked the local police forces about pepper spray and hand cuffs. They said no. It’s ok, though. A disapproving shake of the head accompanied by a ‘tut’ goes a long way.”
If you’d like to join the Accident Reduction and Safety Enforcement Society as a volunteer mountain inquisitor click here for more information.