A retired Wiltshire Police officer who risked his own life to save a suicidal woman from the train tracks has been honoured at the National Police Bravery Awards.
Inspector Ian Stevenson, who has recently retired from Wiltshire Police, attended the awards ceremony in London on Thursday night and was named regional winner for the South West.
The nomination related to an incident where a woman, who had a history of mental health issues and suicidal thoughts, walked out of her house, stating that she was going to kill herself on a railway line.
Insp Stevenson helped search for the woman and spotted her by the railway line. He had heard the long horn blast of what he thought was a train a couple of minutes before and knew that it was on its way. The railway had a single track and the fence was close by, meaning there was not much room.
Insp Stevenson was on the opposite side of the track to the woman, who kept jumping on and off the line. He decided that he needed to be on the other side to try to move her away from danger, so he crossed over the track.
Moments later, a train appeared and the woman ran onto the track. Insp Stevenson grabbed hold of her and wrestled with her to get her out of the way of the train. He had to put himself in considerable danger in front of the oncoming train to restrain her. The train then passed by, narrowly missing them by a couple of feet.
His colleague described it as “like something out of a movie” and that her heart skipped a few beats, until the train had passed and she could see that Insp Stevenson had the woman safe on the embankment.
Insp Stevenson calmed the woman down and spent at least 20 minutes reassuring and talking with her. His brave actions saved a vulnerable woman’s life, risking his own in the process.
Chief Constable Kier Pritchard, who attended last night’s awards ceremony, said he was hugely proud of Insp Stevenson, who has also received a Chief Constable’s Commendation at our Wiltshire Police Force Awards for his actions.
He said: “Ian is a shining example of bravery and dedication to public safety and I am honoured to have had him as a police colleague.
“Everyone at Wiltshire Police is so proud of Ian and we are glad that his public-spirited actions have been recognised in this way.
“Reading the citation for this award really brings home how our police officers and staff put their lives on the line to protect the communities of Swindon and Wiltshire, and it is only right that incidents such as this are highlighted and applauded.
“The recent events in Salisbury and Amesbury have shone a light on the dedication of the police and other emergency services and public servants, and I know the public are incredibly grateful for everything we are doing.
“We have received so many messages of gratitude and support from our local communities and I hope Ian’s story just reinforces the point about how far our officers and staff are willing to go to protect the public.”
He added: “I know officers in Wiltshire and across the country are prepared to run into danger on a daily basis in order to protect the public. On this occasion Inspector Stevenson took this to another level and was clearly prepared to risk his own life in order to save that of another. I am hugely proud of what he did to ensure the safety of a vulnerable lady who was in crisis.”
Angus Macpherson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon also attended the awards and said:
“Day in and day out I continue to be amazed by the selfless and dedicated officers, staff and volunteers who work for Wiltshire Police.
“As recent events have shown, every day they run into unknown and potentially dangerous situations to ensure the public are kept safe.
“Policing is far more than just a job and Insp Stevenson’s story is testament to that, he has saved the life of a young woman and to call him a hero would be an understatement.
“I couldn’t be more appreciative of the efforts our police go to in order to keep our communities safe.”