Hampshire officer who leapt into the sea to save the life of a suicidal man has been nominated for a national Police Bravery Award.
PC Neal Skinner, a dog handler at Hampshire Constabulary, will be recognised at the 22nd Police Bravery Awards next month, at a fitting ceremony in London.
The awards honour and recognise police officers who performed outstanding acts of bravery while on or off duty, hosted by the Police Federation of England and Wales, and sponsored by Police Mutual.
At 9.30pm on 27 December 2015, the officer and a colleague approached a man who was stood on a bridge over Langstone Harbour, threatening to jump off. He was taking large quantities of prescription drugs and drinking alcohol as he spoke with the officers.
As the man was on the wrong side of the bridge railings neither officer could get close enough to grab him.
PC Skinner built up a rapport with the man. He said: “I told him that if he jumped, I was going to jump in after him. He said he didn’t want me to jump in, but I said it wasn’t negotiable because that was my job.”
After almost 40 minutes of talking the man then jumped 30ft into the sea. Without hesitation PC Skinner followed and was immediately overcome by the freezing cold.
He shouted to his colleague to throw a life ring and then swam after the man who was being dragged away by the strong current.
He managed to grab the man by the neck and get to the shore where paramedics were waiting. The man was treated in hospital and PC Skinner was treated for cold shock.
PC Skinner, who has been in the force for 16 years, said: “It was very cold and an experience I wouldn’t want to repeat in a long time. I became very determined and focused that I hadn’t jumped in the water to die myself. I don’t feel like a hero. I’m sure every police officer in my situation would have done the same.”
In addition to being nominated for the National Police Bravery Award, in April 2017, PC Skinner attended a ceremony in London where he was awarded the Order of St John Life Saving Medal in Bronze.
John Apter, Chairman of Hampshire Police Federation said: “PC Skinner showed great courage and compassion and acted instinctively to help another. Without doubt his actions saved the life of another. He is a credit to the Constabulary and we are all very proud of him.”
“It is right and proper that we highlight and celebrate these acts of courage and bravery of our police officers. Members of the emergency services don’t do what they do for praise or recognition, they do it to make a difference. PC Skinner made a difference on that day and this is something we should shout about and celebrate.”
Olivia Pinkney, Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary said: “PC Skinner demonstrated great bravery. His selfless actions resulted in the life of another being saved. This was an act of courage, professionalism and dedication, I am so proud of Neal.”