COPS service honours fallen officers

South Wales Police Federation secretary Clare Biddlecombe has praised the work of the Care of Police Survivors (COPS) charity after a poignant memorial service at the National Memorial Arboretum.

The emotional ceremony on Sunday was attended by hundreds of police officers, many of whom had just finished the ninth Police Unity Tour (PUT) bike ride which saw teams of riders from all forces zig-zag their way across the country to reach the Staffordshire site.

Each of the riders, who took part in the event to raise much-needed money for COPS, wore a wristband specifically dedicated to a fallen officer 

Clare said:  "As usual, this was a very moving service and a chance to remember the colleagues who have given their lives in the line of duty.

"As the speakers at the ceremony said, losing a loved one in such tragic circumstances is absolutely devastating but policing is a family and we will never forget those fallen officers or their families and we will always be there for them.

"This commitment has been highlighted by the officers and staff who took part in the PUT bike ride for COPS and battled through some pretty rough weather to raise so much money for such an important cause that is close to all our hearts.

"COPS provides such vital support to bereaved families and I would urge all our members to go online and make a donation."

The outdoor memorial ceremony featured moving readings and poetry from relatives of fallen officers with music provided by the West Midlands Police Band.

A roll of honour featuring the names of the 27 officers who have lost their lives since the last memorial service in  2019 was read out, and included those who had died from Covid. Wreaths were laid by the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire, Ian Dudson, and representatives of the Home Office, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, HMICFRS, the National Police Chiefs Council, the Blue Knights, PUT, COPS and the National Memorial Arboretum.

The closing address was delivered by the chair of the COPS board of trustees, Sir Peter Fahy, who paid tribute to the family and friends of fallen colleagues.

He told the service: "Every time I talk to a survivor, you lift me, you inspire me with your courage, with your bravery and with your openness and the way you support each other because that is what this charity is all about.“You have heard so very, very powerfully about how important that is.

"It is so challenging to be a police officer or a member of the police staff and we have seen that particularly over the past two years.

"It has never felt really that policing has been so unappreciated and so misunderstood with police officers and police staff under such pressure.

"And, of course, our roll of honour only reflects those officers and staff who have died over the last two years but COPS is very much about continuing the memory for many years past and we all know that time isn t a great healer, it just piles up the family events, the birthdays, the occasions where that loved one is missing.

"Policing asks so much of the people who step forward to serve. Officers and staff take so many risks and all the time they carry the pressures of what they have seen and what they have had to deal with - much of it not noticed by the public and not appreciated - often dealing with very traumatic and upsetting incidents.

"Whatever the circumstances in which an officer or member of staff dies might be, they are carrying those pressures and it is so very, very important that this sacrifice and the sacrifice of their loved ones and families are recognised in this way.

"We in COPS will never forget that and none of the survivors will ever forget that as we move forward, as we grow and as we continue to support one another."

The service came just days at HRH The Prince of Wales attended the unveiling of the new UK Police Memorial at the arboretum.