This story appeared as grist to the mill to everyone with an anti-PCSO bent. It appeared around the police forums and the blogs and was usually entitled "PCSOs Watch Boy Drown", the nuts & bolts of the story was that a 10-year-old boy drowned after trying to help his younger sister who got into difficulties in a ‘pond’. Two fishermen jumped in and rescued the girl but the boy drowned ‘while the PCSOs stood on the bank watching and doing nothing’.
Someone on Police999.com said "I find this quite shocking personally, if I saw a child in difficulty in water I would find it difficult to do nothing, whatever my training.." someone else said "Personally if that was me i would not be able to live with myself if I had watched a 10 year old boy drown."
Over at PoliceSpecials.com the debate was a little less forthright with many of the first posts asking what really happened and warning against jumping to conclusions although the thread was entitled "Blunkett’s bobbies stood by as boy, 10, drowned trying to save his sister." Comments such as this appeared, "I‘d like to say this was unbelievable, but its not. This is what you get when undertrained, ill-informed people are put in positions of public responsibility."
Response Plod really went to town; "You don’t just stand there and watch a child drown because you didn’t have the correct training! That’s absolute bollocks!" and "What the hell everyone helping must have thought whilst these two cowards stood on the bank is beyond me?! I’m sorry to say it, but in my opinion they are just that, "Cowards!" to hide behind the excuse "We’ve not been trained" not to go in the water is inexcusable!" He/she then went on to call for the scrapping of PCSOs using this event as another reason why PCSOs are shite.
The press comment pages and forums are littered with similar comments and suggestions.
As it turned out the truth was a little different from what everyone was spouting. The inquest into the drowning heard that the lad was playing with his younger sister by the ‘pond’ which turned out to be a somewhat larger & more dangerous filled-in quarry pit. The girl got into difficulty and the lad tried to help her. Two fishermen jumped in and got the girl but the lad disappeared under the surface and the fishermen couldn’t locate him. The emergency services were then alerted as a result of which two PCSOs arrived some while later. At this time the lad had been under the surface for between 10 and 30 minutes and, according to the coroner’ was "probably" dead by then. One of the PCSOs then cycled up to await the emrgency services to direct them in as there had been confusion over the exact location of the tragedy, the other stayed at the pit. A Sgt arrived and entered the water, some time later the body was recovered.
This appears to be something far from "Two PCSOs watch boy drown", but why let the truth get in the way of another chance to kick the system?
What amazes me is that of the headlines had been "Two Police Officers watch boy drown" I guarantee the forums would be full of comments along the lines of, "well, we don’t know the full story", "let’s not jump to conclusions" and other similar warnings. What wouldn’t have happened is someone posting about "police cowards".
Strangely it appears OK do do just that when it’s about PCSOs. And they say the job of a police officer is to find the truth?