A determined police officer who risked her life in order to detain a criminal has been crowned the winner of a national bravery award.
PC Heather Cotterill, of Cheshire Constabulary’s Task Force, was on duty in Widnes on the morning of Wednesday 17 January when the driver of a vehicle reversed into the 27-year-old’s police car and attempted to make off towards Hough Green Road.
She managed to open the driver’s door and tried to grab the car keys, but he knocked her hand away and elbowed her in the side of her face and neck before driving the car forward.
Half of PC Cotterill’s body was inside the car and half was outside of it as the driver, Jack Day, 25, attempted to flee.
She was dragged a short distance as she clung onto Day and the door before she managed to force her way fully inside the vehicle.
With the door wide open, Day, from Liverpool, repeatedly struck PC Cotterill as she again attempted to grab the car keys.
He stalled the car during the struggle and tried to flee on foot after exiting the vehicle via the passenger side door as PC Cotterill attempted to cling onto him.
Despite sustaining injuries, PC Cotterill gave chase and caught up to Day as he returned to the car and tried to start the engine.
She sprayed the incapacity spray she was carrying into Day’s face, pulled him from the car and arrested him as members of the public came over to help detain him.
PC Cotterill sustained minor injuries as a result of the incident, including bruising and swelling.
Her heroics have been rewarded with a British Association for Women in Policing Bravery Award after being nominated for the gong by Sergeant Victoria Tait, of the Widnes Local Policing Unit.
She said: “I was honoured to have been nominated for the award and I am doubly honoured to have won it.
“I was surprised but delighted when I found out that I had won and I want to thank Vicky for not only putting me forward but for the support she has provided me with since the incident took place.
“It was a terrifying ordeal which left me fearing that I was going to be seriously hurt or even killed.
“It is scary to think that had things panned out differently I may not have been able to go home to my family, but at the time the adrenaline kicked in and my only thought was to catch the man and make sure that he didn’t get away.”
The annual British Association for Women in Policing Awards were held at the Coombe Abbey Hotel in Coventry.
Sgt Tait said: “I am delighted Heather has been recognised for her bravery during what was a terrifying incident.
“She risked her own life to make sure the offender was caught and showed determination and professionalism of the highest order.
“Heather is an extremely worthy recipient of the award and I am proud to be one of her colleagues.”
Assistant Chief Constable Sacha Hatchett added: “Officers often go above and beyond to protect our communities and bring offenders to justice.
“Heather did exactly that and it is fantastic that she has been recognised for her bravery and sheer determination by the British Association for Women in Policing.
“She is a credit to the force and I am very proud of her.”
Appearing at Liverpool Crown Court on Thursday 12 July, Day, of Yew Tree Road, Halewood, Liverpool, admitted charges of causing actual bodily harm, dangerous driving and driving without a licence and insurance.
He was jailed for 10 months, banned from driving for two years and ordered to pay a £140 victim surcharge.