Police chiefs in the northwest have jumped to the defence of two Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) who stood by as a boy drowned in a pond.
Ten-year-old Jordon Lyon entered the pond when his sister Bethany, 8, got into difficulties in Wigan, Greater Manchester in May of this year. Two anglers saved Bethany, but sadly Jordon became submerged and tragically, he did not survive.
When the PCSOs arrived on the scene, they made no attempt at a rescue, instead allocating a 'crime number', and radioing their station, who told them that, as they were not trained to deal with such a situation, they should await the arrival of 'proper police officers', who were capable of dealing with anything.
Greater Manchester Police said a 'capable officer' was on the scene within five minutes, though this proved too long.
A police spokesperson said:
"These officers cannot be blamed for this tragedy. Our officers are not equipped to deal with emergencies such as these. Give them something like a cat up a tree, or ask them for directions, and they're fine. This was a bit out of their league."
Former Home Secretary David Blunkett today criticised the police for not offering swimming lessons to officers, and said that armbands should now be issued to new recruits as standard.
Mr Blunkett, who once 'took a dive' to save then-PM Tony Blair, said:
"Protect and serve? These officers should have at least got into the water and had a thrash about. That's what I would have done."
I would like to stress that this article is born out of my sheer frustration towards the bureaucracy which is crippling the British police force, and is in no way intended to make light of the tragedy of this heroic child's death.
My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of this poor boy.