Names of fallen officers to be permanently engraved

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The names of more than eighteen hundred police officers and police staff, who have died from injuries they sustained whilst carrying out their lawful duties, are to be inscribed on the UK Police Memorial at the National Arboretum in Staffordshire.

The decision was made by the Memorial Trustees on Friday (30th September) and follows a six month review by the independent names committee led by the national police chaplain, Rev Canon David Wilbraham.

The committee set out to examine the criteria that should be applied for naming officers and staff on the UK Police Memorial. Since March 2016 they have taken evidence from stakeholder groups, people from inside and outside the police service and examined the principles adopted by other memorials, at home and abroad.

Committee Chair, Rev Canon David Wilbraham said: “In a very open, honest, and at times difficult exchange of views and feelings we have sought to identify good and sound principles that would establish the integrity of a UK Police Memorial for the past, the present and the future.  As part of our work we have spoken to different stakeholders and organisations, especially those who have experience in this area, including the military.

“I have been deeply moved by what I have heard. The overwhelming opinion was that the memorial should permanently record the names of those officers and staff who received injuries in the course of their lawful duty from which they subsequently died. The memorial should be a place where all can pay their respects to the fallen and pay tribute to the wider Police service.

“How people are remembered and commemorated is both emotive and complex. Behind every fallen police officer or member of Police staff are those left behind; a spouse, partner, parents, children, friends and colleagues.  Those who have died are remembered and commemorated in many different ways at a local level. The UK Police Memorial will be a place where, in an appropriate and meaningful way, anyone can go to reflect and remember those who have died. “

Sir Hugh Orde, Chair of the Trust, said: “The loss of a loved one is always extremely traumatic, but none more so when they are killed on duty, or die from their injuries.  We are grateful to Canon Wilbraham and the Names Committee for the work they have done and this has allowed us to make an informed decision about this often difficult and emotive issue.

“The committee and the Trustees agreed that the approach recommended would have integrity within the police service and would fittingly recognise the ultimate sacrifice made by colleagues.  Furthermore it would have support from the wider public who would expect a Police Memorial to mark and recognise the contribution of policing to our national life through the sacrifice of those who have died upholding the rule of law.”

The Trustees recognised that commemorating those officers and staff who died in service, but did not meet the criteria for their names to be placed permanently on the memorial, was essential.  Further work will now be undertaken by Canon Wilbraham to examine meaningful ways to recognise and commemorate them. The Memorial design enables many options for personal remembrance.

Gilt-edged leaves cut from the Memorial could be inscribed with the names of the fallen and presented to their families – personal memorials that create a strong sense of bond and belonging. The leaves could be kept by the families, yet could be placed inside the apertures during acts of remembrance.

About Chris Webb