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A west Cumbrian Inspector was announced the North West winner of the National Police Bravery Awards last night. The National Police Bravery Awards are organised by the Police Federation and nominations are submitted from the Police Federation branches within every police force for officers who have demonstrated outstanding bravery.
The annual event was held yesterday, Thursday 18 October, and began with a reception at Downing Street with the Home Secretary during the afternoon, followed by the awards ceremony which was held at Plaisterers Hall.
During the evening, Inspector Dennis Kelly, 48, who lives in the Allerdale Rural area, was named the overall winner of the regional police bravery award for North West England.
Inspector Kelly was nominated by Cumbria Police Federation Representative, Lee Skelton, for the action he took on 29 July 2010 on his way home from work.
After finishing his shift at around 2am, Inspector Dennis Kelly stopped to get petrol at the Spar Stores on Curzon Street, Maryport. As he pulled into the forecourt he noticed a suspicious looking male whose face was obscured by a hooded top. Instead of filling the car with fuel he headed to the cash machine to get a better view of the pay booth and then proceeded to approach the man from behind.
At the counter when the cashier asked for money, the hooded man pulled out a gun from his pocket and pointed it in the cashier’s face. Having witnessed what was happening; Inspector Kelly immediately tackled the man, pushed him up against the counter and managed to control the gun by placing his hand on the weapon. He wrestled the gun free and deposited it in the service hatch, shouting for the cashier to call 999.
Armed police were sent to the scene and the man was arrested on suspicion of attempted armed robbery. He was later charged and, in March 2011, David McCracken, then 27, was handed a four and a half year prison sentence for attempted armed robbery. He also received a three year consecutive sentence for a previous offence of arson committed in Lancashire.
Inspector Dennis Kelly said: “I was very grateful to have been nominated for this award was shocked to hear that I had won.
“The whole event has been a fantastic experience and I was privileged enough to meet with the Home Secretary and colleagues from across the country who have all encountered dangerous situations as part of their daily duties.
“During that night back in July 2010, it just so happened that I was in the right place at the right time and instinct took over.
“Violent incidents like this don’t happen often in Cumbria but something that night told me that the man was suspicious and something was afoot. I’m glad that I was able to help during what must have been a terrifying ordeal for the member of staff and I’m pleased that this criminal has been safely taken off our streets.”
Cumbria Constabulary’s Temporary Chief Constable Bernard Lawson said: “Dennis was incredibly brave that evening and I’m delighted to see him scoop such a prestigious award for his quick thinking, professionalism and bravery.
“This incident is an example of the dangers that police officers can encounter as part of their daily duties and, fortunately, this frightening ordeal was swiftly brought under control by Dennis’ actions.
“At last night’s ceremony, Dennis received a standing ovation from a room packed with police officers and senior politicians. He also personally met with the Home Secretary. He was a true credit to the Constabulary and the communities he serves. I was very proud.”
A relative of the petrol station worker said: “We were hugely impressed by the actions of this officer. He was amazing. After everything Cumbria Police has been through in recent months, bravery like this should be recognised.”