A POLICE officer who single-handedly protected families in a busy North Yorkshire restaurant from a 'crazed knife-wielding thief' has attended the National Police Bravery Awards ceremony in London.

Laura Kelly, who also went to a reception at 10 Downing Street, was nominated by the North Yorkshire Police Federation for her bravery at the restaurant in Scarborough.

A spokesperson said she was in pursuit of a suspect armed with a knife when she saw a man matching the description trying to mingle with diners.

Walking casually over to speak to him – unsure of whether he was the suspect – she began to engage him in conversation and only realised he was the perpetrator when she spotted a blade in his jacket sleeve.

Thinking on her feet, she took a few steps before radioing for assistance. The man then pulled out the knife and started to sway it towards families.

Shouting to other diners to leave, she moved towards the man, pushing furniture in his way and using her PAVA incapacitant spray to create a diversion, allowing the last of the diners to safely leave the building.After a few minutes, she was joined by other officers and the suspect was arrested.

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

“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.”

PC Kelly said that being invited to the awards had made her feel 'so proud.' She said “It’s so exciting to be here at Downing Street today. I feel so proud.It’s just brilliant to be here.It’s great to hear everyone else’s stories of bravery and why they are here today."