Student police officers honoured after wading into sea at South Shields to rescue vulnerable woman

Two student officers who rescued a vulnerable woman who had waded into the North Sea have received national recognition.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 10:09 am
Updated Friday, 14th May 2021, 10:19 am
PC Alexandra Rackstraw and PC Andrew Curtis

PC Alexandra Rackstraw and PC Andrew Curtis have won a Royal Humane Society Testimonial in recognition of their outstanding intervention to help a vulnerable woman in South Shields.

The pair were on duty in October last year and were among a team of officers tasked with locating a missing woman from South Shields.

Officers were growing increasingly concerned for the woman’s welfare and believed she was going through a mental health crisis.

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PC Alexandra Rackstraw and PC Andrew Curtis, along with Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt.

With the help of local authority partners, police managed to track the woman’s movements on CCTV and PCs Rackstraw and Curtis were first on the scene on South Shields seafront.

Seeing the woman who had stepped out into the freezing sea in choppy conditions, the committed PCs waded out to help – and brought her safely to shore.

Despite being soaked through in their uniform, both PCs remained on shift and continued their duty – after a warming cup of tea and a change of clothes.

Both have now been confirmed as worthy recipients of a Royal Humane Society Testimonial on Parchment – in recognition of their life-saving heroics and bravery.

PC Rackstraw, 27, said: “It’s always a very difficult situation when somebody is reported as missing and the most important thing is finding that individual as quickly as possible – and bringing them to safety.

“I’m just pleased that the woman is OK – and that’s the result of some outstanding teamwork between so many officers and partners, as well as supervision who had control of the whole search.

“I’m humbled to hear that I have won a Royal Humane Society Testimonial. Andrew and I just did what anybody would have done in that situation – and I’m so relieved that we were able to help bring a positive outcome to the search.”

PC Curtis, 22, added: “I joined the police to try and make a positive difference and help people – and along with Alexandra, we’re just so pleased to have been able to do that here.

“It was an incredibly fast-moving situation as we tried to locate the woman, bring her to safety and then ensure she received the best possible care and support from health professionals.

“We aren’t in this job for awards or accolades, we do it because we are passionate about people – but I am incredibly thankful to receive this Testimonial and would like to thank everybody involved for their kindness.”

Both officers were congratulated by Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt at Millbank Police Station in South Shields earlier this week.

Chief Supt Pitt said: “Both officers showed outstanding bravery by wading out into the sea – at chest height – in order to protect and safeguard a vulnerable member of the public.

“They should be exceptionally proud of themselves and showcased the very best principles of Northumbria Police. I am therefore delighted that they have been recognised with this prestigious and deserved accolade.”

Formed in 1774, The Royal Humane Society awards medals, testimonials and certificates for acts of bravery in the saving of human life and for effecting successful resuscitations.

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