The Home Secretary praised the ‘bravery, commitment and sacrifices’ of police officers at an event to celebrate 100 years of the Police Federation of England and Wales.
Priti Patel told around 600 Federation members and invited guests – including a number of chief constables and police and crime commissioners – that it had been ‘humbling’ to meet some of the ‘most remarkable officers’ from across the country during her three months in post.
She then went on to say she was ‘hugely honoured’ that her job was to help police officers do theirs.
“Your courage, dedication and public service has been truly moving,” Ms Patel said, “From physically taking on violent and ruthless criminals, to breaking heart-wrenching and tragic news to bereaved families. From handling some of the most devastating and atrocious tragedies to bringing safety and security to the communities in which we all live. You are always there. And for that, I salute you all.”
Speaking about the dangers officers face, she told the audience: “Each day, I ask myself, do people truly understand how unpredictable, dangerous and challenging the work of a police officer is?
“Because, I worry the people posing the threats you face are ever more callous. The job we ask you to do is ever more complex and dangerous. That is why I want to make it clear that I am on your side and that I’ve got your back. I recognise the bravery, commitment and sacrifices of both serving and former officers. And I stand with you; the brave men and women of our police.”
She paid tribute to PC Andrew Harper, the Thames Valley officer who was killed while on duty earlier this year, describing him as a hero.
The Home Secretary also praised the Police Federation for the ‘key role’ it plays, saying it works tirelessly to represent the interests of the rank and file.
The centenary celebration event was held at the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster, London – where the Federation’s first conference was held in 1919 – on Thursday. Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom attended along with the Federation branch secretary Oz Merrygold, deputy chair Jon Capes and workplace reps Gary Williams, Scott Houghton and Colin Avis.
“The Federation has come a long way since it was first established in 1919 but, despite the progress made, it has remained true to its original aims of protecting, supporting and representing its members,” says Liz.
“The centenary event showcased just some of the excellent work that the Federation undertakes on behalf of members both within forces and also in dealings with the Government and other decision-makers.”
In addition to the Home Secretary’s input, Federation chair John Apter gave a keynote speech in which he highlighted some of the Federation’s successes and also called for a public inquiry into the police service saying much had changed since the last Royal Commission on policing in the early ‘60s.
“Is the current model of policing right for the next 100 years?” he asked, adding that the current postcode lottery of funding was grossly unfair.
Other speakers included Sir Thomas Winsor, chief inspector at Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), Chief Constable Martin Hewitt, chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, and Dame Cressida Dick, the Met Commissioner, who presented the Federation’s annual Women in Policing Award.
More details of the centenary event will appear in the next edition of our Federation magazine.