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Saturday, 30 August 2014

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Cumbrian police officers rewarded for their courageous actions

Six police officers all have something in common – uncommon dedication to duty.

Andy Mason photo
PC Andy Mason. To see the whole group, click here

The six members of Cumbria Constabulary were presented with High Sheriff’s awards at police headquarters in Penrith for the exceptional way they carried out their duties in difficult situations.

Two others were also commended at the ceremony yesterday but were unable to attend in person.

One of the men to pick up a certificate was Inspector Ben Swinson, a 34-year-old officer who has been in the force for 11 years.

Back in 2012, when he was still a sergeant based in the roads policing department in Penrith, he was driving down the M6 when he found himself confronted with a dangerous situation.

“I pulled off at junction 40 (Penrith) and a lorry driver was frantically waving and pointing,” he told the News & Star.

A man was hanging off the bridge over the motorway, under the influence of alcohol and drugs, ready to plunge onto the busy road below. With no backup nearby, Inspector Swinson had to handle the situation by himself.

First he tried to reason with the male. “I tried to engage with him, see why he was feeling that way and convince him what he was doing was not the best idea,” he said.

But it was to no avail and the man began to fall back.

Inspector Swinson then grabbed the man to stop him falling. “It was only me holding him up,” he said. “Fortunately for me two members of the public came and helped me.”

The man then went on to receive help for his problems.

Inspector Swinson was proud of his award but added: “I would hope that if one of my family or loved ones was in the same situation, one of my colleagues would act in the same way.”

PC Andy Mason, 46, received his award for an incident in Cockermouth, which also took place in 2012.

“It had been a bank holiday weekend and we got a call saying there was a man hanging off a bridge,” he said.

The man in question was also under the influence of drink and drugs and was sitting on the railing of an old railway bridge, with a 60ft drop below him.

Along with colleagues PC Angus Benzie and PC Ross Mattinson, PC Mason began talking to the man.

He said: “My game plan was to share some of my life experiences, to talk about his family and how they would be affected.”

As he talked to him the other two officer moved towards him from behind. They also engaged with the man, during which time PC Mason also crept forward.

When the men got close enough they pulled the man down from the railings and onto the walking surface.

“He was quite a big bloke – it took three of us,” said PC Mason.

PC Mason was the only one of those three officers to pick up his award in person yesterday and said it belonged to all his colleagues.

High Sheriff Diana Matthews paid tribute to all the officers.

She said: “It is not just about doing the job, it is about going the extra mile to make the community a safe place and often at great personal risk.”

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes was also at the event, as was Deputy Chief Constable Jerry Graham.

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