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Mind where you Pokemon GO: Players dicing with death at landfill sites

01 August 2016

Players taking part in the last craze to hit Britain are dicing with death as they venture into risky areas in their pursuit of Pokemon.

Days after the game Pokemon Go was officially released in the UK, a waste and recycling company has already spotted hapless Pokemon trainers wandering into dangerous territory, unaware of the potentially deadly (and real world) risks they are facing.

Yorkshire based BusinessWaste.co.uk says its already been forced to warn players – both adult and children – away from recycling centres and landfill sites, where they have been completely oblivious to their own safety.

"Pokemon Go is a huge step in mobile gaming which combines an imaginary world with the real one," says BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesperson Mark Hall. "But players seem to think they are immortal in both, and that's where the trouble starts.

"In many respects, the game is extraordinary and appeals to both adults and kids, with whole families getting outdoors to hunt for their imaginary quarry, and that's a very good thing. But it is not without its risks."

The problem is that the game is an imaginary world overlaid on the real one, with little regard as to what are appropriate and inappropriate locations – as illustrated by the Holocaust Museum asking players to show a little respect last week.

Respect is one thing, but danger is another: According to staff working for BusinessWaste.co.uk, the incidents are already stacking up.

  • An adult was asked to leave a waste and recycling site after being seen playing the game oblivious to the plant machinery around him
  • A family group seen hunting Pokemon at an active landfill site. They were given appropriate advice and escorted to safety
  • A teenager climbing on industrial bins containing metallic waste behind a factory because: "There's a Jigglypuff here, give me two minutes"
  • Two youths who stepped out in front of a bin lorry on their way to a nearby Pokestop at a local war memorial, who were within inches of being road traffic accident victims

"This is just the tip of the iceberg," says Business Waste, "Our clients all over the country are reporting similar problems."

BusinessWaste.co.uk says its clients are noting numerous acts of trespass on their property, for no other reason than to "Catch 'em all." While some are merely people sneaking round the car park or grounds, other cases are more serious.

"We've been told of trespassers in production areas, but what concerns us most is reports of people round bins which contain hazardous waste," says Hall. "What is it with imaginary electronic creatures and rubbish bins?" 

According to Hall, people loitering at refuse and recycling sites – always the perennial problem for waste operators concerned out the health and safety of staff and visitors - have been on the increase as the game rapidly achieves cult status.

"We've nothing against Pokemon Go, and we know that players are warned to be aware of their surroundings in a message on the home screen, but it's a warning that's being ignored," he notes. "Real life isn't like a game, you don't get to go back to the beginning if you're killed. Steer clear of rubbish tips and recycling plants, it's not worth it."