Three police officers who formed a human chain to rescue a drowning woman from the River Leven have won a Scottish Police Federation Bravery Award.

Police received a late night call reporting that a woman had fallen into the freezing and fast-flowing water near Dumbarton on March 29 this year.

Sergeant Andrew Walls was joined by constables Niamh Hughes and Craig Grant as they scoured the riverbank in almost total darkness.

After locating the stricken woman, who was now almost completely submerged, they launched a rescue mission to pull her from the water.

Despite the riverbank crumbling beneath their feet due to heavy rains, the trio found an entry point near the woman and entered the water.

With the help of a big stick, they managed to reach the casualty and dragged her back on shore before passing her into the care of waiting paramedics.

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Sergeant Andrew Walls, 39, who acted as the chain’s anchor, said: “She was soaking wet and had no energy left so we were trying to lift a dead weight out of the river.

“The embankment sides were beginning to give way on us and the footing underneath when you’re in the river is just mud.

“I grew up in Dumbarton so I know how dangerous the River Leven can be.

“It’s the second fastest flowing river in Scotland so when somebody goes in, invariably they don't come back out.

“Watching my two colleagues going in, I obviously had concerns for them but also concerns about pulling the female out the water. I was just really happy that everybody got out safe.”

Constable Craig Grant, 30, added: “Eventually we got her up on the embankment and you could see that she was terrified for her life because her fingernails had ripped off from her trying to cling on to her own life.”

Constable Niamh Hughes, 26, who was waist deep in the water, continued: “Our instinct is to protect life first and foremost.

“We run towards trouble, we run towards danger, that’s what we do, that's our job.

“I think that instinct is in every single police officer, that’s just part of the job.”

The trio were nominated for the award by their colleagues and were honoured at the 5th Annual Scottish Police Federation Awards in Edinburgh last night (November 28).