The 17th National Police Memorial Day Service – remembering thousands of police officers who have died on duty – was as emotional and moving as ever, despite being held virtually.
The online service – which featured police and religious leaders, politicians and families of fallen officers – was made even more poignant following the murder of Metropolitan Police officer Sgt Matt Ratana on Friday.
Prince Charles, who is patron of NPMD, paid tribute to UK police officers, saying they had “earned the admiration of the world” and would always have a “special place in the heart” of our grateful nation.
He said: “The dreadful incident in Croydon is an example of the dangers our police officers face daily. We owe our remarkable police officers the most profound debt of gratitude.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “When I think of our officers I think of the extraordinary courage they show every day. The officers we remember today represent the very best of us. They laid down their lives to prevent us from coming to harm. We own them a huge debt.”
Steve James, Chairman of Gloucestershire Police Federation, said: “At a time when the police service is again beset by criticism on all sides, the death of Sgt Matt Ratana will no doubt act as a timely reminder to all of the risks that police officers face every day just to try and keep people safe from harm.
“Having spent four years working like Matt, as a custody sergeant, I’m well of the risks that role carries each day. There will be few custody officers who won’t have their own tale of a close call, and will be at work today keeping just that much closer on eye on things.
“To police officers it will be a stark example not only that no day can be taken for granted, but more reassuringly that there is still a deep wellspring of public respect and support from which we can all draw at times like these.
“Reading the many tributes to Matt over the weekend it was clear to see how well loved and admired he was by friends and colleagues, and how sorely he will be missed. It was also touching to see the many tributes that came from the people and communities in which he served, a reflection of the differences that just one man can make.
“These are the differences that we don’t always see and are certainly not the differences that make headlines. They are no less important for all that.”
Steve added: “All this brought Sunday’s National Police Memorial Day into much sharper focus for many. Whilst the service of course had to adapt to the times in which we find ourselves, it was no less poignant and moving for being held remotely.
“Whilst we all hope to be attend in person in future years, I hope we also retain the ability to share this event with all those who might wish to attend remotely, and choose to spend a moment remembering those officers who lost their lives in service of us all.”
The service also received contributions from the Home Secretary, who gave a tribute and a reading, and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The British Police Symphony Orchestra played ‘I vow to thee my country’, with more than 60 musicians who had proudly recorded their contributions whilst in isolation from homes across the UK.
More than 4,000 police officers who have died on duty were remembered.
Officers who have died on duty over the past year had their names read out. They are Sgt Matt Ratana and PC Chris Miller, of the Metropolitan Police; SC Resham Singh Nahal, of West Midlands Police; PC Matt Lannie, of South Yorkshire Police; PC Nick Dumphreys, of Cumbria Police; DC Jon Hicken, of Dorset Police; and PC Roy Buggins, of Police Scotland.
If you missed it, you can see the service here: https://www.polfed.org/news-media/latest-news/2020/fallen-officers-honoured-at-national-police-memorial-day/