POLICE are planning to crack down on swimmers at the notorious Gullet Quarry in the Malvern Hills.

Thanks to new safety measures and a strong publicity campaign the numbers of people swimming in the lake where two young men drowned last year has fallen dramatically.

But swimming in the lake is illegal under conservators' bylaws, and police say they will prosecute if swimmers persist after being asked to get out.

Steve Bound, the director of Malvern Hills Conservators, said that since the heatwave started wardens have been visiting the lake regularly.

He said: "This year there has been a mere handful of people swimming in the lake compared with years gone by, so the safety measures we have introduced and the publicity we've been giving the issue are clearly working.

"We have been working with police and they have told be they are willing to prosecute. A few people are still swimming so the message has clearly not been getting through to everyone, so I welcome the police announcement."

Under the Conservators' bylaws, swimming in the lake is forbidden. Breaching the bylaws is a criminal offence that can attract a fine of up to £500.

A police spokesman said: "If we see people in the water, we will advise them to get out, but if they persist in swimming, we have the option to prosecute them."

Gullet Quarry, off Castlemorton Common, has long been a beauty spot visited by hundreds of usually young people in warm weather. However, the water of the lake itself remains cold, and swimmers can easily get into trouble.

Justas Juzenas, aged 22, of Ross-on-Wye, and Russell O’Neill, aged 17, of Worcester, died there in July last year after getting into trouble in the lake. The deaths happened within a week of each other.

The drownings split public opinion with some calling for drastic action and others saying the beauty spot should be left alone. Three other people have died there since 1995.

Following the deaths, the conservators asked the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents to come up with ideas to make the quarry safer.

Recommendations included better fences and signs, a rescue line, and planting thorny shrubs to obstruct access to some areas of the quarry. They were implemented this spring.

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