A WHITBY police officer, who single-handedly protected families in a busy Scarborough restaurant from a knife-wielding thief, has been nominated for The National Police Bravery Awards.

PC Laura Kelly risked her safety and used quick-thinking to subdue the attacker and keep the public safe during the incident.

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

“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,” said North Yorkshire Police Federation Chairman, Rob Bowles.

“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.”

In November 2018, PC Kelly responded to reports that a man - Paul Senior from Scarborough - had entered the Sainsbury's Local store on Ramshill Road, Scarborough, and had stolen money from the till.

As he carried out the theft, the man brandished a large knife and threatened to use it against staff and members of the public.

After searching the location, single crewed PC Kelly spotted a man matching the description of the offender drinking in El Gringos Tex Mex restaurant on The Esplanade.

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 PC Kelly spotted a red-handled blade in the man’s jacket sleeve.

Thinking on her feet, she took a few steps back to give herself some space between her and the man before radioing in to ask for assistance.

Realising he had been identified, the man then pulled out the knife and started to swish it towards families as they sat eating at the restaurant.

PC Kelly knew members of the public were at real risk of injury and bravely followed the man.

She managed to block his escape route using tables and chairs having yelled at diners to leave the restaurant.

She then used CAPTOR spray on the suspect to get him to drop the knife and get him under control.

While she waited for back-up, PC Kelly kept talking to the man and engaging with him to keep him calm.

After two or three minutes she was joined by others officers and the suspect was detained using Taser.

He was also found to be in possession of the stolen goods.

Senior, who was 31 at the time of being locked up in January last year, was sentenced to 12 years in prison following the court case.

“PC Kelly show incredible bravery in this incident, putting the safety of others before herself," added John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales.

"The fact this incident had a good conclusion is down to PC Kelly’s skill and courage - she is a credit to policing."