AN URGENT warning has been issued to teenagers spotted dangerously “tombstoning” off piers and jetties across south Essex.

Southend’s Coastguard has revealed a large number of young teenagers and children were seen jumping off Barge Pier, in Shoebury, and the adjacent Gog’s Berth.

The incidents were reported over the weekend as the weather warmed up in the city, and now the coastguard is calling on parents to warn their children of the danger of jumping from height into shallow water.

The service says this is mainly by youngsters who think it is “cool” to jump into the water, but risk serious injury.

Tony Cox, leader of Southend Council, said: “Please don’t do this. It is so dangerous. Respect the water, as the water and current can have a habit of not respecting human life.

“The last thing we want is unnecessary strain on the coastguard too. They are already under strain and do a great job, so make it easier for them by not putting yourself in danger.”

A spokesman for HM Coastguard Southend has also issued an urgent safety message to warn the public of the dangers of jumping into the water.

They said: “This safety message is directed to all parents of children, specifically of young teenage years and younger who have started to tombstone off of our piers and jetties, specifically Barge Pier on the Garrison Shoebury.

“Whilst such activities appear on the surface as ‘fun’, actually these local piers and jetties have hidden dangers and we have had many incidents down the years of people needing to be rescued and / or severely injuring themselves.

“Last Sunday we had a large number of young children jumping off Barge Pier and the adjacent Gog’s Berth on a low outgoing spring tide.

“There have been too many tragedies around the UK and locally that have changed the lives of mums, dads, children, and whole families as well as friends and colleagues. Forever.

“Tombstoning from piers, cliffs, rocks, or other structures into the sea can be very dangerous.

“The depth of water can dramatically change with the tide here in Southend. We have seen too many people jump in on an outgoing tide; this is extremely dangerous.

“The shock of cold water may make it difficult to swim safely and strong currents can quickly sweep you away.

“So, the message to all parents is, please help us educate your loved ones to the hidden dangers of tombstoning in our area.”