Chief Constables and senior police officers from over 36 forces
throughout the United Kingdom as well as the Garda (The National Police
Service of the Irish Republic) met this morning (Sunday 23rd July) at
the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas in Staffordshire for an open
air Service of Remembrance organised by COPS (Care of Police Survivors)
for fallen police officers and their bereaved families. The closing
address was given by Michael Fabricant who announced he will contact the
Home Secretary to ensure that a "common and high level of care is
offered by all police forces for the relatives and dependents of police
officers who lose their lives in the course of duty". He went on to
say: "I recognise that the high standards maintained in some forces is
not replicated in others. And that is just not fair". In the last year
12 policemen and 4 policewomen have lost their lives in the course of
their duty and 22 children have been left bereaved.
Michael Fabricant is a regular attendee and a committed founder
supporter of COPS which started in March 2003 caring for 42 families;
now over 200 families are looked after by COPS.
The ceremony started with a cavalcade of over 100 motorbikes provided by
the Blue Knights – a club comprising serving and former police officers
complete with police motorcycle escorts and out-riders. A police
helicopter fly-past saluted the assembled police officers and survivor
The photograph shows Chief Constables lining up to present their wreaths
with Christine Fulton, COPS National President, on the podium.
There now follows the text of the speech given by Michael Fabricant.
First, let me thank you for inviting me here today and giving me the
opportunity to make this closing address. I have found today’s events
deeply moving. None of us realise the dangers that police officers
confront almost every day when they are on duty. I am proud of them and
When your President, Christine Fulton, kindly asked me to come and make
this speech, she provided some facts and figures about the police
officers who have lost their lives in Britain. I was shocked when I
heard that 13 men and 4 women, from all parts of the United Kingdom lost
their lives this past year alone. And, tragically, 22 children have
lost a father or a mother. And today, we have heard of another police
officer who lost his life – just last week.
We should all feel tremendous pride in these men and women who lost
their lives in the line of duty. Their deaths testify not only to their
personal bravery but also to the great risks endured by policemen and
I hope that all Members of Parliament like me, and all members of the
public, remember this when we think about the dedicated people in our
police forces who keep us safe every day of every year. To say that we
owe them the greatest debt of gratitude is an understatement. Society
is a thin veneer and sometimes it is just the thin blue line that keeps
Today is not about facts and figures. Fundamentally, today is about
people, about the human cost of lives lost in the course of duty. Behind
this loss of life are the families, like the many here today, who have
suffered such devastation.
And that is where Care of Police Survivors comes in. Every family
bereaved by the loss of an officer deserves to have access to help and
support so that they can begin the painful process of rebuilding their
lives. When COPS was founded in March 2003, they cared for 42 families.
Now it is over 200. It seems absolutely clear to me that COPS has an
essential role to play.
Even more so because I recognise that the high standards maintained in
some forces is not replicated in others. And that is just not fair.
There should be common and high standards. I can announce that I will
be writing to the Home Secretary asking that a common and high level of
care is offered by all police forces for the relatives and dependents of
police officers who lose their lives in the course of duty and for the
funds to enable them to do so.
The vital role of COPS has been evident throughout all the events of
this Survivors’ Weekend. This Service of Remembrance is but one part of
what’s been going on. I know there have been seminars, tree dedications,
and a social evening. There have been some fantastic opportunities for
the children to meet each other and have a fun time.
Throughout all of this, COPS has provided the forum in which survivors
can reach out and help other survivors. It is wonderful that you have
been able to share experiences and learn how others have rebuilt their
lives. One of the points made by COPS is that only another survivor can
fully understand what new survivors endure. I understand why that should
be so. This, it seems to me, is the great strength of COPS.
I hope, Christine, you won’t mind me mentioning your message on the COPS
website. I mention it because I think it shows why COPS plays such an
invaluable role. I was very touched when I read about how, having gone
over to Washington and met with the American COPS organisation, being
with other survivors allowed you to meet people who truly understood
what it meant for you to lose a husband or a wife.
So, I have nothing but the greatest admiration for Christine Fulton, as
well as the late Jim McNulty, for setting up COPS in this country. It
was a vital step, and one from which many hundreds of British families
will draw strength, comfort and support.
Let me finish by again paying a sincere tribute to all the brave police
officers who have lost their lives in the course of duty. Everyone in
this country can rightly be proud of them, each and every one. They have
my admiration. And you, the survivors, have my wholehearted support.