30 July 2021
HRH The Prince of Wales and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have attended the unveiling of a memorial dedicated to police officers who have lost their lives on duty.
The UK Police Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire is a magnificent 12-metre sculpture that will provide a place for loved ones, friends, colleagues and members of the public to go to remember fallen officers.
Addressing an audience of 400, as well as those who were watching live from home, Prince Charles said: “I pray this memorial will provide a place to pay tribute and provide reassurance that those who have given their lives will leave a lasting legacy and will never be forgotten.”
He expressed his “profound gratitude” to “those who have laid down their lives” to protect the public and paid tribute to “those who continue to serve” today.
The ceremony was also attended by Home Secretary Priti Patel and the national chair of the Police Federation, John Apter, as well as serving police officers and many families of those who have died while on duty.
After the ceremony, John said: “It’s really important the memorial - along with other memorials across the country – is recognised for what it is intended. That is to remember the supreme sacrifices colleagues have made over a great many years.
“It was an honour to have attended and to lay a wreath on behalf of the 130,000 police officers the Federation represents. This memorial will be especially important to colleagues and ensure friends and colleagues will always be remembered – they will never be forgotten.”
In a pre-recorded message, the Prime Minister said: “It takes a very special kind of person to be a police officer. When you put on that uniform, you know there’s a chance, however small that is, that you won’t be going home, yet you continue to do it anyway.”
He continued to thank the police service for providing the country with “safety, security and freedom”, adding that members of the public are only able to walk down the streets without fear because police officers are standing between them and danger.
“We must never take that for granted and we must never forget. No words can describe what we owe your fallen colleagues,” he said, before ending by calling the British police force, the finest in the world.
The £4.5 million memorial, which took seven years to fundraise for and 12 months to build, was designed by Walter Jack Studio.
The sculpture is designed to look like a slightly ajar door said to signify officers going into the unknown during their line of work on a daily basis.
Sir Hugh Orde, chair of The Police Arboretum Memorial Trust, explained that it is decorated with cut-out leaves, which represent the lives of the heroic officers lost.
During the ceremony, the National Police Air Service (NPAS) paid tribute to fallen officers by taking part in a fly past and “bowing” in front of the sculpture.
The British Police Symphony Orchestra performed during the event, with singer Katherine Jenkins closing the ceremony with the National Anthem. There was also a minute’s silence.
The event comes two months before this year’s annual National Police Memorial Day, which will be taking place on Sunday 26 September, and days ahead of the Care of Police Survivors (COPS) memorial service at the arboretum on Sunday (2 August).