DESIGNS for a memorial to police officers who have died on duty - the brainchild of the film director Michael Winner - are running into trouble with some sections of the police who say it is 'cringe-making'.
Mr Winner, founding chairman of the Police Memorial Trust, has been trying since 1988 to win approval and funds for a national monument in St James's Park, London. Early designs showed St Michael, the patron saint of police. But these have been dropped in favour of a grieving officer standing over the body of a fallen colleague shrouded in a blanket, flanked by two Alsatian police dogs.
The memorial was recently given planning permission by Westminster City Council, and, because it would stand in a royal park, the plans were also submitted to the Queen. She suggested one small change - that the snarling mouths of the Alsatians should be closed to make them less aggressive - but gave the monument her blessing.
The sculpture is by Ivor Robert-Jones, who designed the memorial to Churchill in Parliament Square. The cost is pounds 1.5m.
Mr Winner has the support of the national leadership of the police staff associations, but some officers say that the memorial's dramatic imagery is out of step with the placid and restrained character of the British police.
A member of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland said: 'The point about a memorial is that it should have a certain dignity. It has to reflect an enduring sentiment that in a few years people will not be embarrassed by. This memorial would make our boys cringe.'
David Clarke of the Superintendents' Association said: 'There has been a certain amount of unhappiness in the service about the design . . . it is not the design my national executive would have chosen. We would have preferred something more traditional but we do not want to seem carping at what we hope are philanthropic motives.'
Faced with this criticism last week, Mr Winner emphasised that the design could still change. Indeed it already has. The niches in the drawing above got the chop two weeks ago, which put down the Alsatians (even with mouths decently closed).
Ivor Robert-Jones said: 'Everybody wanted the dogs to remain but because we have decided to get rid of the niches, the dogs won't be needed. But there will be some very large elements in bronze symbolising the present aggression and danger.'
We apologise for incorrectly attributing the design of the proposed memorial to Ivor Roberts-Jones. The sculpture is by him, the design by Theo Crosby.
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