Lanarkshire Policewoman Bravery Award – 1955


On the 3rd of June 1955, two young Glasgow neds escaped from a Borstal in the East Lothian area. John Robinson (18) and Gilbert McCawley (17) headed back to their roots in the Gorbals area of Glasgow.

On June the 10th they were seen on Rutherglen Road by Constable Alexander Davidson of the City of Glasgow Police. He approached both, who were known to him, and he apprehended them.

McCawley began to struggle and managed to free himself, producing a pistol from his jacket pocket. He pointed this at Constable Anderson and shouted, “I’m not kidding copper, this is for you”.

McCawley discharged the pistol toward Constable Anderson and then ran off. Members of the public came to the assistance of the officer and detained Robinson.

Constable Anderson gave pursuit and blasted his police whistle to attract the attention of colleagues. These were the days long before personal radios became the norm.

Walking nearby was Policewoman Constable Isabelle Rankine of Lanarkshire Constabulary (Cambuslang). She heard the whistle and saw Constable Anderson in pursuit of McCawley.

She could see that McCawley was in possession of a pistol, however without hesitation and regardless of danger, she ran across the street to intercept him. McCawley pointed the pistol at her and discharged it toward her face, she ducked to avoid the shot. McCawley continued running and discharged the pistol for a second time, again missing Constable Rankine.

The chase ensued along Florence Street and for a further 100 yards on to Crown Street. Constable Rankine pursued him into a close where he slammed a gate shut on her. She opened the gate and with the assistance of Constable Anderson overpowered McCawley, wrestling the pistol from his grasp.

Both Robinson and McCawley were arrested and appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court on the 27th of June 1955, pleading guilty to the incident. Robinson was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment and McCawley 12 months imprisonment.

Sheriff A.G Walker publicly praised the two officers for their courage and tenacity.


London Gazette entry 27 September 1955 (page 5417)

On the 27th September 1955 Constable Rankine was awarded the British Empire Medal and was cited in the London Gazette with the comment – “Constable Rankine displayed courage and determination and acted in the best tradition of the Police Service”.

British Empire Medal


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