PC Matthew Garfitt (left) and PC Russell Mapley Image supplied by Bedfordshire Police

Two Bedfordshire Police officers who dived into a freezing cold, fast-flowing river to rescue a woman in distress have been nominated for The National Police Bravery Awards.

PC Matthew Garfitt and PC Russell Mapley attended a call in early February 2021, and were told a woman was having a mental health crisis.

Police were concerned for the woman’s welfare as she was described as vulnerable and at risk of taking her own life.

She made it to the River Ouse in Bedford, where other officers had heard her on the phone to a support agency, before witnessing her jump into the fast-flowing river.

PC Garfitt and PC Mapley attempted to use life buoys to rescue the woman but they failed to reach her, as she was being carried away by the current.

PC Mapley made the decision to enter the river. He swam towards the woman and grabbed hold of her; she was now in considerable distress and freezing cold.

The current was so strong that PC Mapley struggled to bring her to the edge, so PC Garfitt jumped in and swam to help.

Other officers on the river bank tied a number of buoys together and threw them to PC Mapley, who grabbed them, and the officers managed to pull all three people to safety.

The other officers pulled the woman onto the bank and checked her vital signs; she was unconscious.

A passing nurse assisted before an ambulance arrived. The woman regained consciousness and was taken to the local hospital for treatment.

She is now being treated by the NHS for her mental health.

Bedfordshire Police Federation Chair Stephen Bozward said:

“PC Mapley and PC Garfitt did not hesitate to act to save the life of the female. In fact both of them had to be helped from the water by other officers, as they were so cold and exhausted from fighting the very strong current.

“The river was swollen and full from recent flood water and the weather was only just above freezing.

“We are proud of these officers’ brave and selfless actions, putting themselves in danger to save a woman in trouble.”

As well as being nominated for The National Bravery Awards, both officers are due to be awarded a Royal Humane Certificate and a Chief Constable’s Bravery Commendation.

The National Police Bravery Awards honour officers from across England and Wales who have performed outstanding acts of bravery while on or off duty.

As nominees, PC Garfitt and PC Mapley will attend an awards ceremony in London on 9 December 2021.