23 July 2018
On the eve of this year’s Police Bravery Awards earlier this month, I was in London with the two Leicestershire nominees for the awards and the other brave men and women who were special guests at a reception hosted in the Tower of London.
It was a great start to the bravery award celebrations but was slightly marred when news started to filter through about the accommodation lined up for police officers being deployed for the mutual aid operation ready for the visit of American President Donald Trump who was due to land at Stansted Airport the following day.
Several of the Federation officials at the Tower were contacted by members who had found they were expected to sleep on little more than a thin exercise mat in a sports hall – or even a squash court in some cases. They were crammed in, with little space between them and a colleague, with some reporting they had limited access to hot water and food. To make matters worse, it was a hot evening and those billeted to these locations were also given staggered duty starts so that officers were setting their alarms and getting up at various times of the morning.
Luckily, and I am sure it was sheer luck, none of the 50 or so Leicestershire officers who were sent on this deployment, were located in the worst of the venues used for accommodation but that does not change the fact that, as a Federation, we were all disappointed and angered that officers’ wellbeing was not put to the fore.
We are grateful to the senior officer team here in Leicestershire, who on hearing this news quickly made representations on behalf of all officers in this situation. Leicestershire Police Federation branch secretary Matt Robinson was involved in the early stages of the planning for this deployment and pushed for our officers to be recompensed in line with Regulations and also ensured that our members’ welfare - not just for those on deployment but those covering back here - was at the forefront of negotiations and deployment.
So, back to the bravery awards. Each year I feel humbled at the brave acts carried out by officers; officers who will always say they were just doing their job. But that’s the point isn’t it? Day in, day out, our officers are willing to put their lives on the line to protect their communities. They run towards danger as others run away. And they do that without really thinking about it. The bravery awards maybe just one event on one day that really acknowledge the brave acts of officers across England and Wales but they are a fitting tribute to all that is good about policing in this country.