On Sunday, September 24 the National Police Memorial Day service will be held at St David’s Hall, Cardiff.
This service pays tribute to over 5,000 police officers who have been killed or died whilst on duty since the first recorded death of a constable in 1680. I am sure that we will remember Pc Keith Palmer who was killed by a terrorist on Westminster Bridge in March this year, aged only 48.
In Lincolnshire, the first recorded death of a constable was William Alcock from Holbeach, who died in 1838 whilst attempting to quell a riotous mob.
National Police Memorial Day was founded in December 2000 following the death of Pc Jon Odell in Margate and its patron is His Royal Highness Prince Charles. Over 2,000 officers and relatives attended last year’s service which was held in London.
British officers police by consent and are granted powers to enable them to execute their duties. Their primary role is the protection of life and property, preservation of peace and the prevention and detection of criminal offences.
To enable them to carry out this role with the support of the public, police officers have done so unarmed until recent times. In the past they only carried a whistle, handcuffs and truncheon for protection. Today, officers wear protective clothing and are equipped with Tasers or pepper sprays. Officers from all forces now have specialised firearms training and it’s not unusual to see armed response units regularly on patrol.
Policing rural areas such as Lincolnshire with only 1,100 officers can be as dangerous as policing in big cities. Officers often cover vast areas on their own and when they need assistance it can take a long time for another unit to attend. So on Sunday, please may I ask you to take time to remember those officers who have lost their lives on duty, along with those from the other emergency services who have paid the ultimate sacrifice whilst serving our country.
Coun Ray Wootten, Grantham