Two community support officers who were first on the scene of a pond drowning should have attempted a rescue, the former home secretary has said.
David Blunkett - who introduced CSOs - said that "as human beings" they should have gone into the water to try to find 10-year-old Jordon Lyon.
Police say the CSOs, who directed other crews to the location, were untrained in rescues and had "acted correctly".
Jordon died after going into the Wigan pond to rescue his step-sister in May.
An inquest heard that Jordon leapt into the water at John Pit Pond - an old colliery pond - after eight-year-old Bethany got into difficulties as they collected tadpoles.
He was trying to support Bethany as she struggled in the 6ft-deep water before slipping from view.
Two anglers waded in and pulled Bethany to safety using their rods but Jordon became submerged.
The alarm was raised and the CSOs arrived. Police said they could see no sign of Jordon in the water, so they radioed trained officers for help.
Ass Ch Con Dave Thompson, of Greater Manchester Police, backed the pair and said they had directed other emergency services, who were at the wrong location, to the scene.
But Jordon's distraught mother, Tracy, said that they should have "automatically" gone into the water to save a drowning child.
Mr Blunkett told BBC Radio 4 Today programme that he agreed their first "instinct" should have been to get into the water.
"What was appropriate in this circumstance for a uniformed officer would be appropriate for CSOs as human beings, never mind the job," he said.
"I would like to think that you or I, when we arrived on the bank as just normal human beings and we had the spot pointed out to us by the anglers who pulled the little girl out, we would have a go, even if we had to pull out because we weren't divers and we weren't able to sustain it."
"I would have got more than my trousers wet by the sound of the depth of the lake, but I'd like to believe we'd have a go, even if we were only moderate swimmers."
Mr Blunkett said that Jordon's courage in rescuing his stepsister should be recognised with a posthumous award.
"I've never heard of a 10-year-old show such bravery as helping the little girl out of the water at his own risk," he added.
"I hope we'll be able posthumously to give an award to recognise the enormity of what he did."