Blog: A blue Christmas
21 December 2018
Police Memorial Roll of Honour
You can’t have failed to have noticed that Christmas is almost upon us.
For some people it’s a time of joy and happiness but for many others just the thought of the ‘festive period’ can fill them with dread and anxiety.
Christmas can bring out the very best in human nature but it can, as I and my policing colleagues can testify, bring out the very worse.
But one common theme that features heavily at this time of year is family.
You may consider it heaven to see your loved ones this holiday season but for many people the idea of spending extending periods of time with their relatives is simply hell.
It is well documented that the number of domestic incidents rises at Christmas.
John has paid tribute to all those who will be working over this period who will be spending time away from their own families to keep other people’s loved ones safe.
But what I wanted to talk about is our police family.
Yes thousands of my colleagues will be away from their own families but they won’t be alone.
In canteens and custody suites, in pandas and on patrol. Eating turkey sandwiches from the local garage rather than a roast with all the trimmings, they will with their brothers and sisters in blue - making the best of things.
We are one big - sometimes dysfunctional – family, and like all families we disagree, we moan, we tease and we poke fun - but deep down we share an unbreakable bond.
When one of us needs help – we rush to their aid, when one us is hurting we rally around and when one of us falls – we all mourn.
I wanted to share something which happened recently which I think epitomises this spirit, and which I am proud to have played a small part in.
I want to tell you about Kelsey Jeffrys – with her permission of course.
Kelsey is a police officer, she works in Scotland. Her dad was a police officer too. He is what inspired her to join the job.
In 2002, while on duty with Strathclyde Police, Kelsey's dad Neil was involved in a car crash which killed his colleague PC Jim Clarke and left Neil in a coma.
Neil sadly passed away as a result of his injuries in 2011. His name is recorded in Police Roll of Honour which is housed at the National Police Memorial in the Mall in London.
Every November, on the anniversary of her dad’s death, Kelsey travels from Glasgow to London to visit the memorial. It’s a place where she feels close to him.
A young Kelsey Jeffrys and her late father Neil
Last month she made the trip – but when she got there the Memorial was closed off for maintenance. As you can imagine Kelsey was devastated. She reached out to our friends at UK Cop Humour and asked for their help, and they phoned me because we at the Federation help look after this special place.
As soon as I heard Kelsey’s situation I made some calls and was able to arrange for her to have access to the book and help her fulfil her wish, and connect with her dad.
Now being Vice Chair of the Police Federation has many good points but having the mobile phone number of the right people at exactly the right time and being able to help a member of my blue family – well it doesn’t get better than that.
Kelsey herself said that what happened reminded her that “although we might all hate the job from time to time and whether you have been in for three year or three decades. We all have our gripes and our moans but we all have one thing in common we are all part of the same family. The Police Family. A family I never knew I had”.
We often feel the loss of those who are no longer with us most poignantly at this time of year - and for some it can be a time of extreme sadness or isolation.
So think of your police family as well as your blood family this Christmas.
Take the time to check on people, to ask how they are doing, and consider that as well as tinsel and turkey, this time of year can be trying and traumatic.
And always remember that it is ok not to be ok - if that is how you are feeling.
If you need some support - just ask. We are your family and we have got your back – 365 days a year.
* There are a number of support service available. The Samaritans can be contacted free, 24 hrs a day on 116 123 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org The mental health charity Mind run their own Blue Light Programme and we support the Welfare Support Programme for officers who have been suspended from duty or and going through a Post Incident Procedure.