‘Any thief spotted with one of these ropes deserves the scorn that comes their way’

By Ian Marland at

Lifebelts along the River Clyde in Glasgow are being fitted with a distinctive, coloured throw rope to deter thefts.

The hope is the unusual yellow, orange and purple cords will be less likely to be stolen.

Anyone carrying or possessing the ropes will likely identify themselves as a thief who is risking other people’s lives.


The new, distinctive design of throw rope

The river including the quays in the West End have long had an issue with thefts and vandalism.

MP Alison Thewliss raised the problem in the House of Commons earlier this year.

And Glasgow couple Duncan and Margaret Spiers have been instrumental in getting the new measures.

‘Make a difference’

They have been pushing for enhanced river safety measures after their son Christopher accidentally drowned in the Clyde in January 2016.

Purple thread was added to the rope in memory of their son Christopher, who was only 28-years-old when he died.

Duncan said: “The death of Christopher is something that we have to live with every day.

Couple who lost son with new rope

Glasgow couple Duncan and Margaret Spiers

“Christopher was only in the water for a matter of minutes and emergency services were right there at the time.

“So every second counts and adding the throw ropes to the lifebelts can make all the difference.”

He said: “A throw rope is cheap, but a life is precious.

“Taking ropes or lifebelts is costing lives and people need to think twice before doing this.”

“We are really grateful to the Water Safety Group for the backing they have given our campaign.

“If the ropes are successful in Glasgow then we hope they can be used by other local authorities too.”


In April, the council trialled the addition of standard throw ropes to 22 city centre life belts, but following a spate of thefts in July only seven remained in place.

Since July a further 30 standard ropes have been attached to city centre lifebelts but at the most recent count, 23 had been stolen.

Seventy of the new-design ropes have been installed on to lifebelts between Albert Bridge at the east of the city centre and Bell’s Bridge in the west.

Andy Waddell is chair of the multi-agency Glasgow Water Safety Group, which has helped to steer the introduction of the ropes.

He said: “It is truly staggering that anyone could steal a life belt throw rope, knowing that it could put someone’s life at risk.


Duncan and Margaret Spiers with Andy Waddell

“Sadly this is an issue that has historically dogged Glasgow and shame should be heaped upon those who undermine the city’s river safety.

“But by creating a distinct and recognisable throw rope, is intended that anyone who takes one of these ropes is identifying themselves as a thief.

“We hope the design of the throw rope deters the thieves. Otherwise anyone spotted with one of these ropes fully deserves the scorn that comes their way.

“If anyone sees someone with one of these ropes they should contact the police as it’s been stolen.”

As part of the throw rope initiative, enhanced CCTV support is also being put in place in an effort to identify the culprits who steal the ropes.

New buoyancy throwbags are also being introduced along the river, which are lighter and easier to throw to someone in the water.