Police Federation

South Wales

Inspector Paul Ramsay, PC Owen Bedford and Detective Inspector Paul Graham

Inspector Paul Ramsay, PC Owen Bedford and Detective Inspector Paul Graham

Four officers, PC Owen Bedford, Inspector Paul Ramsay, Detective Inspector Paul Graham and a fourth – who wishes to remain anonymous, have been nominated for the National Police Bravery Awards 2023 after they made a human chain in poor light conditions to save a woman precariously positioned over a crumbling cliff.

In the early hours of 12 April 2021, South Wales Police received a call from a distressed woman on the edge of high, steep cliffs at Southerndown, Vale of Glamorgan.

She had informed the call operator she was hanging quite far over the edge – her feet were dangling over.

PC Bedford and a colleague were deployed to the call; the on-duty Cardiff Bronze Inspector, Paul Ramsay, and DI Paul Graham, who was a sergeant at the time of the incident, also assigned themselves to the call. The Coastguard and force drone team were requested as the police helicopter was unavailable.

First on scene was Inspector Ramsay who located the woman in a highly precarious and vulnerable position hanging on to crumbling rock surrounded by wet grass, over the cliff’s face.

It was immediately obvious to all officers that any intervention and effort to save her could not wait; she was at immediate risk of falling and would have minimal chances of survival if she fell.

DI Graham noted: “It was pitch black and the ground was soaking wet with dew. The woman was located at the bottom of a gradient into a sheer drop. The consistency of the rock at that location is not very firm and is crumbly, and there are regular collapses along the coast of the cliffs, so I was aware that what we were standing on was not very safe.

“I was fully aware that we were all in a life and death situation at this point.”

The woman was conversing with the officers as they made efforts to reach down and haul her to safety. However, she was at the limit of their reach and unable to be rescued without further dramatic action.

DI Graham’s instinctive first thought was to save life and he organised a human chain, at the end of which he dangled as he tried to reach her.

The four officers demonstrated great bravery and little regard for their personal safety as they linked and supported one another over the wet, crumbling, and exposed cliff edge in the dark.

Holding onto PC Bedford as a base, DI Graham reached out to the woman but was unable to get a firm grip of her hand, “I thought I’m not going to be able to pull her back over the ledge of the cliff with one hand. She didn’t have much upper body strength and was not able to assist much but was clearly trying her best to try and get back up the cliff.

“I let go of PC Bedford and put both hands out to try and pull her up and had hold of her hands with mine.

“PC Bedford was holding my weight. I had hold of her and then I didn’t.

“I was pulling her as hard as I possibly could and did the best that I could to try and save her life.”

DI Graham had the woman’s hands briefly in his own before she fell over the cliff’s edge to the ground below.

The officers rushed to locate her at the base of the cliffs but found her unresponsive and unable to be resuscitated by CPR.

Jeremy Vaughan, Chief Constable of South Wales Police, said the officers involved in what he accepted was a ‘truly awful’ incident were a credit to policing.

Mr Vaughan said: “Police officers serve and protect the communities of South Wales Police with courage and pride on a daily basis, and I am immensely proud of the actions of Detective Inspector Paul Graham, Inspector Paul Ramsay, PC Owen Bedford and the other officer involved in this incident. On that cold, dark night their actions exemplified their professionalism and dedication in trying to save a life and in doing so putting their own lives at risk.

“They demonstrated sheer courage and determination, and their actions in really difficult and dangerous circumstances, prevented the tragedy that unfolded becoming even worse.

“While the events and heart-breaking outcome must have been truly awful to deal with, it is right to recognise the contribution they made throughout the incident and just how brave each officer was. They are all a credit to policing and should reflect on this terrible incident with pride.”

Steve Treharne, Chair of South Wales Police Federation, said the officers were worthy nominees for the award and added: “These officers were really courageous and did their utmost to try to save this lady’s life.

“Their quick-thinking in forming a human chain to try to keep themselves safe while still having a firm focus on this rescue attempt was typical of police officers across the country who day in, day out find themselves faced with life-threatening situations.

“I commend them for their actions and welcome the fact that their bravery will be recognised at the Police Bravery Awards which are being held in London in July."

We use cookies on this website, you can read about them here To use the website as intended please... ACCEPT COOKIES