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Officers showed ‘outstanding bravery’ when faced with suicidal man

L-R: High Sherrif Alistair Wannop, PC Joseph Rossiter, SC Neal Collins and Chief Constable Jerry Graham.
L-R: High Sherrif Alistair Wannop, PC Joseph Rossiter, SC Neal Collins and Chief Constable Jerry Graham.

[T]wo officers who went to the aid of a man who had doused himself in petrol and was holding a lighter have been commended for their actions.

Special Constable Neal Collins and Police Constable Joe Rossiter, both of Cumbria Constabulary, received Chief Constable’s Commendations at a ceremony in Penrith on 11 May 2017.

The commendations were in recognition of the “outstanding bravery” they showed on 24 July 2016.

The two constables attended Brunel Way in Carlisle following a report of a suicidal man in the area. They located the man and approached him on foot, only for the man to douse himself and the officers in petrol. He then took out a lighter.

Despite the obvious risk to their own safety, the two constables stepped forward, wrestled the lighter from man’s grasp and tackled him to the ground.

Inspector Kim Brennand said: “The actions of Special Constable Collins and Police Constable Rossiter showed incredible bravery. This was clearly a perilous situation and yet, despite there being a clear risk to their own safety, the two men acted quickly and effectively.

“There is no doubt that this was a situation which could have ended tragically but for the swift actions of these two constables. They are both a credit to the Constabulary.”

Special Constable Collins said: “I didn’t hesitate when I saw the lighter. I ran towards him and clamped his hand to stop him lighting it and setting us all on fire.

“Gradually, I managed to remove the lighter from his hand and updated control to say the man had been detained.

“I feel very honoured and privileged to receive the award. This kind of incident – being able to help save someone’s life – it’s what you sign up for.”

Police Constable Rossiter said: “When he poured petrol on himself he gave us no time to think and my main concern was his safety.

“He was clearly distressed and this incident really highlights how mental health issues can affect people.

“I hope incidents such as this demonstrate that the police will do everything they can to help and protect people suffering from such issues.”

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