Bravery Award For Harbour Police Constable

Rescued Ice Hockey Fan from Freezing Water

A Belfast Harbour Police Constable who rescued a visiting Sheffield Steelers Ice Hockey fan from the freezing waters of Belfast Lough in January has received Belfast Harbour’s highest award for gallantry.

Constable Scott Harkins entered the water at Belfast Harbour Marina to rescue the woman who was in imminent danger of drowning.

Coming to the assistance of a PSNI Constable who was on the scene first, Constable Harkins swam 15m to the semi-conscious female and brought her back to the quayside.  Emergency services arrived shortly afterwards and they were transferred to the Ulster Hospital.

Constable Harkins, a father-of-two from Bangor, is also a volunteer with the Bangor Lifeboat Crew which has received specialist training in recovering people from the water.  Receiving his gallantry medal at a special meeting of the Board of Belfast Harbour, he said:

“I am deeply honoured to have received the Belfast Harbour Police Medal for Gallantry.  The award ceremony at Belfast Harbour Office will live long in the memory of my family who attended.

“This rescue was a joint effort with my colleagues in the PSNI and NI Ambulance Service, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue and Lagan Search and Rescue and I’d like to thank them for ensuring that this didn’t turn into a tragedy. 

“Although I went into the water at Abercorn Basin, I did so wearing a lifejacket and with the benefit of specialist training.  If any member of the public should find themselves in a similar situation they should contact the emergency services first and throw a life ring to those who are in distress in the water.  They should not enter the water themselves without the benefit of specialist training and life-saving equipment.”

Speaking at the award ceremony, David Dobbin, Belfast Harbour’s Chairman said:

“Constable Harkins showed tremendous bravery in entering cold water with undercurrents and rescuing this woman.  He brought her to safety and assisted in her care until other emergency services arrived.  Scott himself had to be treated for hypothermia.

Constable Harkins is a credit to Belfast Harbour Police and we’re all tremendously proud of him.”

Founded in 1847, Belfast Harbour Police is one of the oldest police forces in the UK or Ireland and is responsible for providing a safe and secure environment throughout the 2,000-acre Belfast Harbour Estate.

The Belfast Harbour Police Medal is awarded in instances where exceptional bravery and courage are displayed in the discharge of duty.