A WEST YORKSHIRE Police officer just missed out on a national award for his efforts in tackling three criminals who were "playing a real-life game of Grand Theft Auto".

The Police Federation's Bravery Awards 2020 took place in London on Tuesday - a year later than expected after being postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A total of 93 officers from 42 forces across England and Wales were honoured at the event, which celebrated its 25th year.

One of those was PC Neil Masheder from West Yorkshire Police, who was nominated for arresting a dangerous, knife-wielding robber in a violent struggle.

It all unfolded when the officer was off-duty, doing his weekly shop, making the act of bravery all the more impressive given PC Masheder had no uniform on and was not carrying any protective equipment.

The officer spotted a stolen Seat Leon car in a supermarket car park, in the Leeds area, on September 10, 2019.

It turned out the vehicle had been taken during a burglary, along with cash, and had been used in two knifepoint robberies of a man and a convenience store in Kirklees.

The suspects had also used the vehicle for another burglary in which they stole two more cars.

The Seat was in a disabled bay with two people inside and the officer realised the suspects needed to brought in to prevent further harm to the public, so he rang in the sighting to the control room.

PC Masheder kept an eye on vehicle while he waited, but suddenly the driver returned and the suspects prepared to leave the car park.

This was the officer's time to act, and PC Masheder made the instinctive decision to try stop the car and arrest the individuals.

He had no PPE or means to get them detained but, after a violent struggle, PC Masheder managed to arrest the driver of the car.

The suspect's accomplices had fled the scene, but they were soon found and detained by attending officers.

West Yorkshire Police Federation Chair Brian Booth said: “These three violent and despicable criminals were playing a real-life game of Grand Theft Auto.

"They were armed and dangerous and had already robbed and threatened several people at knifepoint.

"If Neil hadn’t bravely intervened on his day off, they would have gone on to carry out a lot more violent crime.”

PC Stuart Outten from the Metropolitan Police was named the overall 2020 winner at the ceremony.

He suffered multiple stab wounds and skull fractures but managed to use his taser to disable an attacker who was armed with a machete.