5 November 2021
A Gloucestershire Police officer who courageously jumped into a fast-flowing river in the dark to save a vulnerable teen’s life has been nominated for The National Police Bravery Awards.
Det Insp Rory Ainslie was the on-call police negotiator on a March evening this year when he was called out to help talk to a young girl called ‘Nikki’, who had absconded from a secure unit.
She had escaped the previous evening, with the intention of ending her life.
Det Insp Ainslie – an experienced officer with 20 years service – made his way to a steep bank on the River Severn immediately where Nikki had been located.
Following a week of torrential rainfall, the river was flowing extremely quickly, the bank was sodden and the pair were standing in deep glue-like mud. Det Insp Ainslie tried to talk to the teen but the conversation was difficult; Nikki is autistic and was in deep distress following the death of her sister by suicide four years previously. She simply stated that she wanted to die to be with her sister.
Det Insp Ainslie spoke to Nikki calmly, telling her that if she went into the river, he would have to go after her. He stayed with her for two hours.
It was a cold night and extremely dark and Det Insp Ainslie was wearing layers of clothes, a thick jacket and winter boots. In a split second Nikki dove head-first into the water, and Det Insp Ainslie threw his radio to a colleague and jumped in after her, disappearing under the water.
When he emerged, he spotted Nikki and swam over to her and grabbed her, but she struggled violently. Fortunately he managed to control her and swim her back to the river bank. It was too steep and muddy for Det Insp Ainslie to pull the teen out, so he grabbed onto a tree branch as he waited for help in the freezing water.
It took ten minutes before the pair could be safely brought out with ropes, and Det Insp Ainslie was left extremely cold and weak. But his priority was Nikki, who was seen by paramedics and taken to get the help she needed.
Det Insp Ainslie’s only concern was that he had kept his promise that he would not let her die.
Nikki’s parents have since contacted Det Insp Ainslie to offer their heart-felt gratitude. They plan to meet him face-to-face to thank him for saving her life.
Steve James, Chair of Gloucestershire Police Federation, said colleagues could not be more proud of the work of Det Insp Ainslie that evening.
Steve said: “Rory is a total hero. He placed himself into a really dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation displaying bravery to save a young girl’s life. As a parent myself, I get emotional ready about such courage and it deserved to be commended at the highest level.
“The events of that night were extremely dangerous and dynamic – it went from zero to 100 in the blink of an eye. Rory risked his own life to save that of a teenage girl who was the same age as his own daughter.
“He promised he would protect her and he did. Rory should be exceptionally proud of himself for the incredible actions he took that night.”
The National Police Bravery Awards honour officers from across England and Wales who have performed outstanding acts of bravery while on or off duty.
Det Insp Ainslie will join colleagues from across the country at the prestigious 2021 National Police Bravery Awards in December.
The National Police Bravery Awards are sponsored by Police Mutual.