A CLACKS councillor has issued a reminder of how vital life rings are following a series of thefts in Stirling.

Stirling Council recently announced that 11 rings have had to be replaced on a section of the River Forth since last Friday, July 23.

Clacks Council environment spokesperson Cllr Craig Holden has issued a firm reminder of the consequences of tampering with the potentially life saving equipment and urged people not to misuse them.

He said: “Lifebuoys and life rings are potentially life-saving equipment and it is vital that they are available if someone's life is in danger.

“Anyone stealing life rings would be placing people’s lives in danger and would be at risk of prosecution.“

The 11 rings stolen from the River Forth are more than a quarter of the total of the life rings deployed across the parts of the Forth and Teith where the council has management responsibility and fishing rights.

Cllr Jim Thomson, convener of Stirling Council’s environment and housing committee, added: “At a time when we are hearing tragic stories of people drowning in open water across Scotland, the theft of this life-saving equipment could have fatal consequences and cause heartache for families and friends.

“To those involved, is that really something you want have that on your conscience?”

During the summer months, the banks of the Forth and Teith are used for fishing as well as walkers, cyclists and tourists.

The recent hot weather has seen more people using the rivers for sunbathing and swimming, underlining the need for appropriate safety equipment on site.

Unfortunately, however, this is not the first time the council has had to raise the issue of life rings being stolen at this time of year – in 2019, almost 40 rings were lost.

Speaking at the time, Cllr Jim Thomson said: “It might seem like a small thing, but having enough life rings could be a matter of life and death.”

Cllr Danny Gibson, vice convener of the committee, added: “Tragically, the dangers of open water have been highlighted once again over the last week and these rings can be the difference between life and death.

“This is an extremely serious matter and it’s disturbing that the removal of this vital rescue equipment on our rivers is continuing to happen. I would urge anyone who spots this to report it to the authorities.”

Anyone who spots life rings being tampered with or removed should contact Police on 101.