'Children need to have an accident'

Health and safety "extremists" are preventing children from leading a healthy and robust lifestyle, the head of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has said. Tom Mullarkey accused "small-minded bureaucrats", of undermining genuine health and safety work.

He said officials should concentrate on making Britain "as safe as necessary, not as safe as possible".

"We do not believe in extremist health and safety ideas which would keep children wrapped in cotton wool.

"Our argument is that a skinned knee or a twisted ankle in a challenging and exciting play environment is not just acceptable, it is a positive necessity.

"We need to prepare children for a complex, dangerous world in which healthy, robust activity is more a national need than ever before.

"We think people should climb mountains, and sail boats – we are trying to help them in a practical way."