The last week has been one where the costs of policing and the sacrifice of officers and staff have been set out.
On Wednesday I attended the dedication ceremony of the new UK Police Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. After seven years of fundraising and planning, the new memorial has exceeded the expectations any of us could have. The new memorial is a doorway representing a threshold to a different space and the dangerous places where the police go. It stands tall across the arboretum as a place of focus; policing standing tall and taking its place in such a special places of memory. I strongly recommend you visit it.
Sadly the day was a painful one for families. I introduced families from the West Midlands, West Mercia and West Yorkshire to the Prince of Wales. They talked about the impact on them of the day and their loss. The pain remains no matter how many years have passed. I am so grateful to the many staff from the force and our Comms Department who helped make the day special.
The memorial is not fully finished. When funds allow walls will be added engraved with the names of officers and staff who have died of injuries sustained in their duties. You can find out more here –www.ukpolicememorial.com. There is a digital roll of honour. Do donate what you can.
The Care of Police Survivors event also took place at the arboretum at the weekend. This included the Police Unity charity cycle ride. Chief Superintendent Andy Beard, PS Paula McDowell (Shirley NHT), PS Richard Cooke (Bloxwich NHT) took part in the ride and can be sponsored here https://www.justgiving.com/team/TeamWMP. Funds go to support this charity.
The ever present dangers of policing were on show after two officers were attacked in West Bromwich. Two people are charged with attempted murder. Thank you to all for the amazing response and the courage on display. When I heard the sad news of PC Laura Jew’s tragic death I thought of the discussion we had after a terrible assault she received in the city centre. Condolence messages can be left for Laura here after she lost her fight with cancer.
Set in this context the position on police pay has been of concern. I have not taken to twitter to rant on this issue as frankly it does not make much impact. The government has made investments in policing and the Home Secretary and ministers do work with policing. In the autumn it was clear that public sector workers outside the NHS, who would receive 1%, would not receive pay rises this year. At the time people accepted this position recognising the very difficult situation many others found themselves in during the pandemic and of course the economic impact.
I am afraid the decision to grant much higher awards in health, and deals for the fire service, local government and some civil service roles is deeply uncomfortable. I am very concerned the independent pay body has been restricted on its recommendations; independence must be guaranteed when officers have restricted employment rights. Police staff will no doubt be in the same position later this year. It is important police pay is treated the same as in other sectors. Chief Constables are going to raise this with government.
Finally with the release of social distancing restrictions we are starting to see Coventry City of Culture begin. I was delighted to see the CircColumbia recently. Keep an eye on the programme as it emerges. We are also one year out from the Commonwealth Games. These are exciting events as we work through a busy summer.
Thanks for your great work.