Two North Yorkshire Police officers nominated for bravery reward for attempted Scarborough cliffs rescue

Two North Yorkshire Police officers who used an old fishing rope to descend 100ft down a sheer cliff in Scarborough to try to rescue a man who had landed on the rocks below have been nominated for The National Police Bravery Awards.

Monday, 8th November 2021, 11:27 am

Once PC Steve Merritt and PC Mandir Xherija had got down the craggy rockface in Scarborough on October 10 last year, they administered emergency CPR to the stricken man as the incoming tide began to rush in.

PC Xherija was the first to respond to a call that an abandoned rucksack and mobile phone had been found on the clifftop.

The member of the public calling was concerned that someone might have left it there before deciding to jump from the cliff edge.

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PC Mandir Xherija

Given the location, PC Xherija had had to park his patrol car some way from the scene, but he sprinted across neighbouring fields to get to the cliff edge as soon as possible.

Once he had reached the cliff, he peered down to see if he could say anyone on the rocks below before venturing out on a piece of the ridge which juts out to get a better view.

It was clearly a risky thing to do, but it was the only way for him to see if anybody needed his help.

Thanks to his new vantage point, he could see what looked like the arm of a person poking up between the rocks.

PC Steve Merritt

Realising the person was in serious trouble, he courageously decided to use an old fishing rope embedded in the cliff to lower himself 100 feet down to the ground.

Making it safely to the ground, he found the man and began to perform CPR on him. PC Merritt arrived on the scene at this stage, and again courageously, he also used the fisherman’s rope to scale down the cliff.

A Coastguard rescue helicopter was on the way. While the officers waited for the helicopter, the two officers continued to perform CPR on the man for around an hour and a half in what were challenging and dangerous circumstances.

By now, the tide was beginning to come in, and the surrounding rocks were starting to get extremely slippy and hazardous as the sea lashed around them.

However, the courageous officers refused to give up on the man and continued in the freezing cold until the helicopter could winch him to the top of the cliffs.

Unfortunately, the injuries from the fall proved too severe, and he later passed away.

The Coastguards told the officers it was too dangerous for them to scale the cliff using the rope, so they too were eventually winched off the rocks.

North Yorkshire Police Federation Chair Rob Bowles said the officers had been "unbelievably brave" to abseil down the sheer cliff face.

“This was an incredible attempt to save a life by the officers,” he said.

“They were absolutely determined to do everything they could for this man and to carry on performing CPR for so long as the tide rushed in around them is to their enormous credit.

“Steve and Mandir should be incredibly proud of what they did that day.

"They really did go way above and beyond to try and help and they are very worthy nominees for The National Police Bravery Awards.”

Rob concluded: “Sadly, the incident did not have a better outcome and our thoughts remain with the family and friends of the deceased.”

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, PCs Merritt and Xherija will attend an awards ceremony in London on December 9.

The National Police Bravery Awards are sponsored by Police Mutual.