Police defend community support officers in drowning death

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The Independent Online

Police chiefs have defended two community support officers who stood at the edge of a pond as a 10-year-old boy drowned.

Jordon Lyon jumped into the water after his eight-year-old step-sister Bethany got into difficulties while swimming at a beauty spot in Wigan, Greater Manchester, in May.

Two fishermen spotted Bethany's arms wrapped around the neck of Jordon, who was holding her up with his head under the water.

They jumped in and managed to save Bethany but Jordon became submerged.

The police community support officers (PCSOs) then arrived at the scene but did not attempt to rescue Jordon as they were not trained to deal with the incident, an inquest heard.

The boy's stepfather and a friend waded into the pond in a desperate search for him and were joined minutes later by a uniformed officer who stripped off his body armour and dived in to help them.

Jordon was eventually pulled from the water at John Taylor's Pit but despite attempts to resuscitate him was later pronounced dead in hospital.

His mother, Tracy Lyon, and stepfather Anthony Ganderton, of Bluebell Avenue, Wigan, want to know why the PCSOs did not try to rescue Jordon and why they did not give evidence at the inquest held by deputy West Manchester coroner Alan Walsh.

Mr Ganderton told the inquest: "I don't know why they didn't go in. I can't understand it.

"If I had been walking along a canal and seen a child drowning I would have jumped in.

"You don't have to be trained to jump in after a drowning child."

The inquest heard there had been initial confusion over the location of the pond with trained officers sent to the wrong place.

When the PCSOs arrived there were no signs of the boy in the water, police said.

In a statement after the hearing, Detective Chief Inspector Phil Owen, of Wigan CID, who led the investigation into Jordon's death, said: "PCSOs are not trained to deal with major incidents such as this.

"Both ourselves and the fire brigade regularly warn the public of the dangers of going into unknown stretches of water so it would have been inappropriate for PCSOs, who are not trained in water rescue, to enter the pond.

"This was a tragic incident where a young boy lost his life and we would once again want to pass on our heartfelt condolences to Jordon's family."

A verdict of accidental death was recorded.