Our aim is to both protect our historic buildings and landscapes, and encourage public access, within levels of risk acceptable to society.

Our members follow a consistent approach to visitor safety management and are committed to applying our guiding principles in their work.

The group, set up in 1997, was originally called the Visitor Safety in the Countryside Group (VSCG). It includes organisations that own and manage land and property, with day-to-day experience of visitor management, as well as national policymakers and specialist safety advisers. We work together in order to:

  • identify and share good practice
  • promote the application of consistent management principles
  • develop a model approach to risk assessment that incorporates valuing benefits
  • encourage consistency in the choice and application of risk control measures
  • seek a balanced and pragmatic approach to dealing with the many and varied factors that affect visitor safety management
  • produce sound interpretation of legislative requirements and court decisions.

Our fundamental aim is to identify and promote ways to manage visitor safety that sustain the environment and enhance the value to society of our landscapes and special places.

The guiding principles and practical risk management techniques have been developed and implemented by our members over many years. They were first published in 2003.

They have proved their worth in practice and have been recognised by enforcing authorities and courts as the basis for sensible risk management.

The guiding principles have been adapted for use by the National Water Safety Forum and the National Tree Safety Group. They underpin the advice in our books.

Managing Visitor Safety in the Countryside’ will help anyone who invites or allows members of the public into:

  • moors, mountains and open countryside
  • parks and gardens
  • footpaths and waymarked trails
  • forests, country parks and nature reserves
  • canals and rivers
  • coastlines
  • reservoirs and lakes
  • urban green space
  • visitor centres.

In ‘Managing Visitor Safety in the Historic Built Environment’, we show how the principles can be specifically applied in historic places like castles, churches and stately homes.

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“HSE supports the VSG’s commitment to promoting a sensible and proportionate approach to managing safety in the countryside.
This guidance provides a valuable framework for managing risks to visitors, which is sensitive to the intrinsic value of the landscape, and does not unduly restrict public access.”

Health and Safety Executive