4 April 2022
Police staff associations have joined forces with prison officers to call for the creation of a new award to recognise fallen emergency service workers.
The campaign launched by the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), the Police Superintendents’ Association and the Prison Officers’ Association calls for unique recognition for emergency service workers who make the ultimate sacrifice whilst in the execution of their duty.
The various associations are calling on the Government to create a new posthumously awarded ‘medal’.
They want Home Office approval and are seeking cross-party support to enhance the current honours and awards system, which fails to adequately reflect the dedication, commitment and sacrifice of those individuals who lost their lives in keeping their local communities safe.
It would be similar in status to the Elizabeth Cross, which is awarded to the bereaved relatives of members of the British Armed Forces killed in military action.
The campaign has also been supported by Bryn Hughes, whose daughter PC Nicola Hughes and her colleague PC Fiona Bone were murdered a decade ago (2012) during a gun and grenade attack in Greater Manchester, and former Kent Police Officer Joe Holness OBE QPM, founder of National Police Memorial Day.
PFEW’s Deputy National Secretary John Partington said: “It is only right we should honour fallen colleagues and support bereaved families. Police officers and other emergency service workers willingly run towards danger while others run away.
“The current awards system does not formally recognise emergency service workers who lose their lives while performing their duties, and all too often formal State recognition is not forthcoming. The proposed new medal would not just recognise outstanding individual acts of dedication to duty, it would also mean so much to family, friends and colleagues.”
Paul Fotheringham, President of the Police Superintendents’ Association, added: “Back in 2019, we called for an extension to the award of the Elizabeth Cross to those police families whose loved ones have died in the execution of their duty, and we continue to support the need for this formal recognition.
“Police officers and other emergency service workers dedicate years of their lives ensuring the safety of others, and sometimes this results in the most tragic of sacrifices when they lose their lives in the line of duty. It is right our nation affords these people, and their families, the value they deserve through recognition of this kind.”
After losing his daughter Nicola in September 2012, former prison officer Bryn Hughes, played a leading part in the successful campaign to establish the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, which commemorates the 5,000 police officers who have died in the line of duty over the years. He also runs the PC Nicola Hughes Memorial Fund, to help children whose parents have been murdered.
Bryn, who has Nicola’s police number 14846 tattooed on his wrist, is supporting the campaign for the new medal. He said: “Police officers and emergency service workers like Nicola are human beings who go to work expecting to finish their shift then head home to see family. They willingly sign up to serve the public, knowing the dangers they might face.
“In my daughter Nicola’s case she was the tiniest thing, just 5ft tall. When she died, a colleague told me: ‘she had the body of a lion cub, and the heart of a lion’.”
Bryn continued: “As a society, it is only fitting and right we recognise her service and courage. I am backing this campaign as the creation of a new medal would fittingly honour fallen colleagues, and the families of emergency workers who have suffered a devastating loss.
“It would mean so much to so many for the Government to officially show formal gratitude to Nicola and others and say ‘thank you’ to those who are killed because they have gone to work wearing a uniform.
“Although it is now a decade since we lost her, there is not a day that goes by where I don’t think of Nicola. Nothing will ever make up for her loss, but this award would bring a large degree of comfort to me and many others and is long overdue.”
Former Kent Police officer Joe Holness OBE QPM, who founded National Police Memorial Day after the killing of fellow Kent Police officer Jon Odell, is also backing the initiative.
He said: “For some time it has been my strong belief that emergency personnel who pay the ultimate sacrifice should be granted the fitting honour of a posthumous award. This is long overdue.
“The fallen have earned the right to be recognised in this way. They are an example to us all and must never be forgotten.”