AN OFF-duty police officer who tackled a knife-wielding boy to the ground has urged youngsters against carrying blades.

PC Scherene Clarke was at home in Upper Stratton when her youngest son, Kayden, then 11-years-old, ran into the house saying there was a child waving a 12-inch butchers’ knife in the local park and threatening to kill an older man.

The 35-year-old South African was around nine months into her job as a police constable with the Wiltshire force.

PC Clarke, who this week was awarded a Chief Constable’s commendation for her bravery in apprehending the young knifeman, said: “I don’t know if it was mother instincts or me being a police officer, but I went out, ran towards the area and there was a kid on a bicycle.

“As he was trying to pedal away, a kid shouted ‘that’s him’. I ran towards him and took him to the floor, pretty much sitting on him until officers arrived.

“In his backpack was quite a large knife he was waving in the children’s faces. There were a lot of kids in the park; young kids, who were upset and crying.”

The incident, which has been dealt with by an out-of-court disposal, was a “rude awakening” for the former ambulance driver-turned police officer.

Concerns over youth knife violence in Swindon has grown in recent years. Earlier this month youth workers in Pinehurst and Penhill, which is PC Clarke’s beat, held a major event teaching schoolchildren about the dangers of carrying a knife. In May, a 15-year-old boy was slashed across the back of the head on Swindon Road, Stratton, in what is believed to be ongoing trouble between town gangs.

PC Clarke said: “I do this job and I know what’s out there. I’ve not been a police officer very long. I’m still on my probation.

“It’s been a rude awakening. You see young kids who feel the need to carry weapons, the lack of respect, the violence towards members of the public.”

Asked what message she had for youngsters tempted to carry knives, the probationer cop said: “Every reaction has a reaction. That split second where you make that decision to either pull out that knife or to cause someone serious harm or even kill them, that’s game over.

“That’s the rest of your life down the toilet.”

While clearly proud of being awarded the commendation on Tuesday night, PC Clarke said it was her son Kayden who “deserves this as much as I do”.

“He kept calm, did what he was supposed to do. But he worries a lot about me,” she told the Adver.