A POLICE officer who single-handedly protected families in a busy restaurant from a crazed knife-wielding thief has been nominated in the National Police Bravery Awards.

PC Laura Kelly, from Whitby, risked her safety and used quick-thinking and excellent police skills to subdue the attacker and keep the public safe during a fast-moving incident.

Her work will now see her celebrated alongside colleagues from across England and Wales at the prestigious National Police Bravery Awards.

In November 2018, PC Kelly responded to reports that a man had stolen money from a shop in Scarborough. As he carried out the theft, the man brandished a large knife and threatened to use it against staff and members of the public.

During her search, lone officer PC Kelly spotted a man matching the description of the offender drinking in a restaurant. PC Kelly began to take details from the man, who at this stage, she didn’t believe was the perpetrator. A call came through that the offender had been carrying a red-handled knife during the theft and it was then when she spotted a red-handled blade in the man’s jacket sleeve.

She took a few steps back to give herself some space between her and the man before radioing for assistance. Realising he had been identified, the man pulled out the knife and started to brandish it towards families in the restaurant. PC Kelly managed to block his escape route and yelled at diners to leave the restaurant. She then used CAPTOR spray on the suspect to get him to drop the knife.

The man was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

North Yorkshire Police Federation Chair Rob Bowles said PC Kelly had shown real determination and great courage to protect families in the restaurant from the knifeman.

“Laura showed the highest level of bravery and potentially risked her safety to enable the public, of which several were children, to make good an escape,” he said.

“She used all her skills to contain the threat and managed to update the control room under the greatest of pressure effectively – we are very proud of her.”

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 a nominee, PC Kelly will attend a prestigious daytime reception and evening awards ceremony in London in July 2021. The 2020 event – the 25th National Police Bravery Awards - had been scheduled to take place this past summer but had to be cancelled due to Coronavirus.

Nevertheless the Police Federation of England and Wales wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the fantastic work of all 94 nominees from across the country online from today (September 24).

John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “We are incredibly proud of all the nominees from across England and Wales. The actions of these courageous officers provide a small snapshot of the amazing work our colleagues carry out day in and day out.

“PC Kelly show incredible bravery in this incident, putting the safety of others before herself. The fact this incident had a good conclusion is down to PC Kelly’s skill and courage. She is a credit to policing.

“As a Police Federation, we wanted to make sure these brave officers received the recognition they deserve in the year their actions were meant to be celebrated. And we look forward to seeing them all in person – and revealing regional and national winners - when the time is right in 2021.”

The National Police Bravery Awards are sponsored by Police Mutual.

John Perks, Chief Executive Officer of Police Mutual, said: “Police Mutual is, as always, proud to be supporting the National Police Bravery Awards in its 25th anniversary year. Despite having to postpone the original ceremony, the officers’ courage has never been forgotten – they all showed commitment to keeping the public safe in the most demanding of circumstances.

“We very much look forward to meeting all the nominated officers in July 2021 for the ceremony, and our chance to give our thanks in person.”