Man arrested in fake fall probe at South Tyneside cliffs

Emergency services at the cliff tops after the incident.
Emergency services at the cliff tops after the incident.

A man who sparked a major air-sea rescue operation at a South Shields beach has been accused of faking a cliff fall.

Emergency services were scrambled to Marsden Beach, off Coast Road, South Shields, on Thursday afternoon, after reports suggested that a man had fallen from the cliffs above.

Police, ambulance and fire services attended the scene – along with South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade and Sunderland Coastguard.

The man was taken to hospital with what were described as non-life threatening injuries by Coastguard helicopter – which meant the road had to be sealed off.

It was at hospital that it was discovered that the injuries were not consistent with falling from a height.

Northumbria Police have now revealed a 36-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of causing a public nuisance.

He has been released on bail pending further inquiries.

A police spokesman said: “On Thursday at 3.50pm police received a report of concern for the welfare of a man on the beach at Marsden Grotto. He was taken to hospital, where it was found he had suffered minor injuries that were not consistent with a fall from a height.

“A 36-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of causing a public nuisance and released on police bail.”

The incident was the third at the cliffs in 24 hours. 

At 6am on Thursday, emergency services were called out after a man’s body was spotted on a ledge halfway down on the cliffs. It was recovered in an early-morning operation.

At 5pm on Wednesday, police responded to reports that a man was on the wrong side of the safety barrier at Marsden Grotto.

The coastguard team used rope rescue equipment to set up safety lines for two police negotiators to reach the man – who initially did not respond. He was eventually persuaded to return to safety and escorted away by police.

A police spokesman added: “Officers attended and the man moved to the right side of the barrier. He was subsequently taken to hospital by police to be assessed by mental health professionals, who deemed he was in no immediate risk.”