Police chiefs have defended two community support officers (PCSOs) who stood by as a 10-year-old boy drowned in a pond. Jordon Lyon leapt into the water in Wigan, Greater Manchester, after his eight-year-old stepsister Bethany got into difficulties on 3 May.
Two anglers jumped in and saved Bethany but Jordon became submerged. The inquest into his death heard the PCSOs did not rescue him as they were not trained to deal with the incident.
UPDATE - via the Dumb One, Bishop Hill has a relevant quote - I think from Ayn Rand.
"You have destroyed all that which you held to be evil and achieved all that which you held to be good. Why, then, do you shrink in honor from the sight of the world around you? That world is not the product of your sins, it is the product and the image of your virtues. It is your moral ideal brought into reality in its full and final perfection."
UPDATE2 - Telegraph Poor young Jordan Lyon, who drowned saving his step-sister, seems to have been a lot braver than the organs of the state.
They receive four weeks training before starting their role. This training includes "race and diversity" and "health, safety and welfare", according to the Metropolitan Police website.
UPDATE3 - The Health and Safety Executive certainly has a few smears of blood on its hands.
In 1999 Paul Metcalfe, a Bury firefighter, died after trying to retrieve a drowning teenager from a pond. Untrained in water rescues and ill-equipped, he went into the water with a line but succumbed to hypothermia. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) later decided to prosecute the Manchester fire authority.
But while Manchester fire and rescue services are now better equipped at water rescuing than some other brigades, the general reaction across the country appears to have been to tell firefighters to take no chances, and that attitude has spread to the police.
In July this year, the Metropolitan police were fined £75,000 and ordered to pay £50,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching health and safety laws after two 14-year-old boys, Gameli Akuklu and William Kadama, died at a children’s event in 2002 in the swimming pool at the force’s training college in Hendon, north London.
Brian Paddick, who retired from the Met in May as a deputy assistant commissioner, said: “At that time all recruits were trained to swim and, when they could, they were trained in lifesaving.
“As a result of this incident, the then commissioner, John Stevens, ordered the pool to be filled in. Since then, officers have not been trained in swimming or lifesaving.”
Paddick, now running as the Liberal Democrat candidate for London mayor, said the approach of the police nationally to health and safety had also been shaken by the death of Kulwant Sidhu, an officer who fell to his death while chasing a suspect across a roof.
The HSE brought a prosecution which, although it failed, cost £3m and saw Stevens and his predecessor, Lord Condon, brought before the Old Bailey.
“They were prosecuted because they had not instructed officers not to risk their lives operating at height,” said Paddick. “That now extends to forces telling police community support officers not to get involved in emergencies or in violent situations. They are told to withdraw and call the police.”
Paddick said that officers in the Met were supposed to call for back-up from the fire brigade or a lifeboat if they encountered someone drowning, but he said most had the “self-confidence” to ignore the rules if a life was in danger.”
He added: “Community support officers do not have that self-confidence, and standing on the shore watching is just one example of that.”