An off duty police officer who single handedly tackled two criminals by pinning them against a wall with a stolen bicycle has been praised for his "bravery and diligence".

PC Matt Stripp, who is based in Merton, was travelling by train in the Haywards Heath area of Sussex on January 8 when he overheard two men discussing the sale of a stolen bicycle.

When the train pulled into the station the 33-year-old, without backup or his usual protective equipment, took it upon himself to tackle the men holding them until uniformed officers arrived. 

Both men were arrested and later linked to number of other crimes in the area. 

Acting superintendent for Merton CID, Mark Lawrence, said: "PC Stripp single-handedly detained the two men using the stolen cycle to trap them against a wall until police assistance arrived.

"PC Stripp's diligence and bravery led to two further persons being arrested with links established to 17 further crimes. 

"This is excellent police work from PC Stripp, which typifies the commitment and professionalism of police officers at Merton."