14 July 2023
Derbyshire PC Laura Nicholson was among police officers from across England and Wales honoured at the national Police Bravery Awards in London yesterday.
Laura, who was nominated for an award after tackling a man who was choking her colleague, attended the awards ceremony with her partner Ben Jennings and the couple were joined by Derbyshire Police Federation representative and deputy chair Tenielle Hardwick and Chief Constable Rachel Swann.
Earlier in the day, Laura and Ben joined fellow nominees and guests at a Downing Street reception which was hosted by the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman.
“Laura and Ben had an incredible day and it was a real privilege to be able to attend the awards ceremony with them,” says Tenielle.
“Hearing all the details of the incidents the nominees had been involved in was a stark reminder of the dangers that colleagues face each and every day when they turn up for duty.
“All too often the news headlines are dominated by stories in which the police are being criticised in one way or another but the awards ceremony highlighted all that is good about policing in this country and the incredibly brave individuals who make up the police service.
“It made me feel proud to be a police officer.”
PC Laura Nicholson ahead of the Downing Street reception
In the incident for which Laura was nominated, she and a colleague were called to a report of a domestic property and upon arrival faced a man and his son, who were immediately aggressive to them.
After being hit over the head by the son, Laura’s colleague found himself in a headlock by the dad, who was strangling him. It was then that Laura quickly realised she needed to do whatever she could to stop the attack.
“We walked into the property to find a woman looking distressed. The next thing I know, this man - who we now know is the son - came out of nowhere and hit my colleague over the head with a motorbike helmet. I was hit too,” said Laura, who then used her incapacitant spray to repel the son, before activating her emergency button to call for help.
“The son ran off, but the dad managed to get my colleague held by the throat, in a headlock. I could hear him gurgling, the dad was choking him.”
As well as trying to use her incapacitant spray on the offender, 40-year-old Laura also tried to detain him by hitting him with her baton.
“The spray did absolutely nothing, which was very unusual. It literally had no impact. This guy was a lot stronger than he looked - it was unreal,” continued mother-of-two Laura, who joined the Force in 2018.
“We then all fell over and the offender was trying to get my baton off me. At this point, I could hear that my colleague was still choking, and the man was also threatening me. If he’s managed to get the baton off me, I think he would've killed me.
“I decided to try and negotiate with him. I just needed to stop him, not just for my colleague’s sake but mine. I remember thinking, this man might beat us both to death. I couldn’t fail. I suddenly felt very alone and vulnerable.
“Eventually he did let go.”
Having been released from the headlock, the officer eventually came around.
Laura recalled: “We all just stood there, it was the weirdest experience. I just needed everyone to remain still because I knew backup was on its way.
“Back-up eventually arrived - and a lot of them, so they managed to detain the offender properly.”
Laura was nominated for the Region 4 award which was won by Nottinghamshire officers Sergeant Dan Griffin and PC Amy Pannell.
Dan was stabbed multiple times after challenging two men acting suspiciously and Amy, who was a student officer at the time, was praised for her quick-thinking in helping detain the attacker and stem the blood from Dan’s wounds.
The overall winners were a team of West Midlands officers who formed a human chain to try to save four boys who had fallen through a frozen lake.