A long-serving police community support officer (PCSO) from Ivybridge has been honoured by colleagues after she helped prevent a young girl from taking her own life.

PCSO Diana Summers, 59, spent more than half an hour talking to the 12-year-old child, who was in a highly stressed state and threatening to jump into a fast-flowing river.

The incident happened in May last year, and this week Ms Summers, who has been a PCSO for 17 years, was honoured along with dozens of her county colleagues for their commitment and dedication by the Devon and Cornwall Police Force.

In a statement, the force commended the Ivybridge PCSO for her “professionalism and deep care and compassion”.

In the incident, Ms Summers joined a search for the girl, who had gone missing and was considered to be at high risk after leaving home hours earlier in a suicidal state.

Ms Summers used her extensive knowledge of the local area to locate the girl shortly afterwards. She saw that she was sitting perilously close to the river’s edge and, with patience, eventually managed to dissuade her from jumping in. The girl was later safely reunited with her family.

Speaking to this paper, PCSO Summers said she used her own experience as a mother to engage with the troubled child.

“We just sat and chatted for a while on the edge of the river. Luckily, I managed to win her round and she came away,” she said.

“A lot of the time we’re dealing with very low level anti-social behaviour, so when you do get a job like that you go home feeling good. The majority of the time we always feel we could have done more – that’s a common thing throughout the police - but it worked and hopefully she got the help she required.”

PCSOs provide a key link between police teams and local neighbourhoods, carrying out patrols, dealing with anti-social behaviour and resolving community issues, although they are not supposed to deal with high-risk cases.

However, shortly after becoming PCSO, Ms Summers was involved in a dangerous incident, risking her own safety when she encountered four burglars while investigating a complaint about anti-social behaviour inside a house.

“There was no-one inside the property, so I walked round the back into the garden and at that point four males ran out of the house with their wares.”

She shouted at them to stop and, to her surprise, one of the crooks willingly obliged.

“He stayed with me but the others sadly got away. They were as surprised as I was, to be fair!” she laughed.

Ms Summers, who patrols surrounding areas as well as Ivybridge, was asked about her future job plans.

“I hit 60 in March but I’ll stay on for as long as I can!” she said.