The Prince of Wales is to unveil a national memorial to fallen police officers in Staffordshire.
In a ceremony at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas on Wednesday, the future monarch will give a short speech before unveiling a plaque dedicating the monument and laying the first wreath.
The monument commemorates all police personnel who have lost their lives in the line of duty since the formation of the Bow Street Runners in 1749. Since then, nearly 5,000 officers and staff have died whilst policing UK communities, 1,500 from violent acts.
The 12-metre-tall brass memorial was designed by Walter Jack and represents a portal – the threshold to dangerous places where police must enter, but sometimes do not return from. The monument contains leaf-shaped cut-outs, giving the impression of falling leaves to represent service, sacrifice and lives lost.
It also includes two low screens that hold the names of 2,000 police officers and staff, and is set within a landscaped area ringed with trees.
The memorial will be unveiled at 2.30pm in a private ceremony, attended by around 400 guests from across the policing community. Those in attendance will include chief officers, bereaved relatives, policing charities, government representatives, and Boris Johnson
Speaking on LBC Radio on Wednesday, the prime minister said: “This is massively important to me, and I think to the country, because we need to remember our police officers – men and women – are people who run towards danger, who put their lives at risk to keep us safe, and that point cannot be repeated often enough”.
The ceremony comes as relations are strained between the government and police services, due to a pay freeze which has led the Police Federation to say it has no confidence in home secretary Priti Patel.
Sir Hugh Orde, former chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and chairman of the Police Arboretum Memorial Trust, said that the memorial had been “designed for ceremony, tribute and personal acts of reflection”.
He added: “As a nation, we owe all those who have laid down their lives to keep us safe and protect us from harm a huge debt of gratitude.
“This memorial will ensure that the memory of those officers and staff who have died lives on in perpetuity.
“This is a place that will not only honour the courage and sacrifice of the men and women from our police service, but it will become a fitting tribute to honour all those who continue to serve.”
The memorial complements an existing digital memorial to police who have fallen in the line of duty.
The unveiling ceremony will begin with a flypast by the National Police Air Service. Mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins and the British Police Symphony Orchestra will perform at the ceremony, which will also include a minute of silence to honour and remember the fallen.
The ceremony will also be broadcast on the National Memorial Arboretum’s Facebook page, and from Thursday, the new monument will be open to visitors.
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