POLICE have hit out at a new craze sweeping Newton Stewart and surrounding areas which has left people in other parts of the world dead.
Planking, also known as the “lying down game”, is leaving perpetrators open to prosecution after they publicly posted photographs of themselves online - and named themselves in the pictures - balancing on rooftops, main road signs, lamp-posts and bridges.
The seemingly pointless activity consists of lying rigid and face-down in an unusual or incongruous location. Rules state that the hands must touch the sides of the body, and having a photograph of the participant taken and posted on the internet is an integral part of the game.
But police who have seen photographs posted on the Facebook website this week, some on a public page entitled “Dumfries and Galloway - the natural place to plank”, say the photographs “defy belief” and they intend to prosecute those named in the pictures.
The worrying album of photographs shows groups of young men lying across the A75 as lorries approach, lying across road junctions in the town, on top of roofs of coaches and on the spans of bridges.
Inspector Stuart Davidson of Newton Stewart police called the game “unbelievable” and said the dangers attached to such silly stunts are very real.
He said: “We are taking this very seriously and are making enquiries into what we have seen on Facebook both through that site and through other local means with a view to prosecution.
“These pictures defy belief and we would encourage people to stop behaving in such a wreckless manner and not put themselves and others at risk like this.
“We are also working with schools and various other groups to educate them about the dangers involved in this behaviour.”
On the Facebook page, which has more than 1,000 followers, some people have left comments slamming those involved and asking them how long it will be until someone dies.
One posted: “Maybe they will bury them face-down as a mark of respect.”
Others have called the participants “legends” and say Newton Stewart is a “plankers’ paradise”.
A group of employees who posted snaps of themselves planking on a forklift truck at their workplace in Staffordshire were sacked on health and safety grounds last month and one teenager in Yorkshire was arrested for tresspassing this week after posting a picture of himself sprawled across a railway line.
Local plankers here are being warned of the same fate as photographs emerge showing them draped across business signs and on private property - including Royal Mail vans and construction vehicles.
But more worryingly is the story of a young man who died whilst planking in Australia in May.
The 20-year old toppled off some railings and plunged to his death from the balcony of a block of flats after a night out.
And police in the UK have voiced concerns that other deaths may have occurred this way but have been denied by peers.