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Center Parcs fined £250k after eight year old breaks wrist in tree fall

Holiday park operator Center Parcs UK has been handed a £250,000 fine after an eight-year-old fell around 3 m from a tree and broke her wrist.

Center Parcs fined £250k after eight year old breaks wrist in tree fall
Central Bedfordshire Council. The tree climbing area at Woburn Forest Village

The company pleaded guilty to breaching s 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act at Luton Crown Court on 13 March.

A Central Bedfordshire Council investigation into the incident at Woburn Forest Village on 22 October 2015 found that a Center Parcs employee was supervising seven children in an organised tree climb.

The employee had been tasked with providing a safety talk, fitting a harness on each child, and clipping each child to the fall-arrest system before the activity started.

One of the children, aged eight, started to climb the tree without being clipped to the fall arrest system. When she had climbed up to about 3 m, she fell and broke her wrist.

Councillor Ian Dalgarno, executive member for community services at the council, said: “Our investigations found inadequate risk assessments in place, an unsafe system of work, and inadequate monitoring to ensure that the tree climbing activity was safe.”

A spokesperson for Center Parcs said the company “accepts full responsibility”.

In a statement reported by the Nottingham Post, the spokesperson said: “We take the health, safety and wellbeing of our guests extremely seriously, and from the outset have co-operated fully and proactively with the investigation.”

Center Parcs said that it had reviewed and amended its operating procedures in relation to tree climbing following the incident. 

Woburn Forest Village is a separate legal entity to the other Center Parcs companies. However, its safety and health is managed by Center Parcs UK (which is owned by Blackstone Group) and it has the same board of directors as the other Center Parcs UK divisions.

In addition to the fine, the company has to pay £14,000 in costs.


Nic Warburton is acting editor, IOSH Magazine

 Nick Warburton is acting editor of IOSH Magazine. He is a former editor of SHP and has also worked on Local Authority Waste and Recycling and Environmental Health Practitioner


  • I also had a accident on the

    Permalink Submitted by Peter Arnold on 16 March 2018 - 03:38 pm

    I also had a accident on the same Adventure challenge at CP Woburn !!!
    I got a cut above my eye / black eye on the zip wire at the end of the challenge when the rope came back at the end of the wire and hit me in the face. CP were appalling with first aid treatment and after care. They stated that they would look into it as my concern that as they had recently changed the braking system at the end of the zip wire that it would happen to someone else.

  • Whilst I have every sympathy

    Permalink Submitted by Colin Atkinson on 16 March 2018 - 10:37 pm

    Whilst I have every sympathy for a child being hurt and little sympathy for inadequate systems and management. I can’t be the only one thinking that children needing lessons in tree climbing says more about society and the parents than it does about Health and Safety in workplaces. Sad times...

  • 250K for broken wrist but

    Permalink Submitted by ALAN STOCKLEY on 26 April 2018 - 05:47 pm

    250K for broken wrist but 10k for an amputation

    Can somebody explain what seems to be a big difference in fines for two accidents with vastly different outcomes. Albeit both avoidable


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