Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so very pleased and proud to be able to join you today on this most special of occasions as, together, we dedicate this splendid National Police Memorial, recognizing the unique contribution of British Policing to our country and across the world.
I need hardly say that I am proud to have had a close and enduring connection with the Police Service, long before becoming Patron of the National Police Memorial Day – a day that itself acts as a reminder of the true meaning of public service and the high price which is too often paid by police officers and their families for their dedication to duty.
Ever since the earliest recorded death of an unknown Constable in 1680, approximately 5,000 men and women from our Police Service have died in the line of duty, notably 221 since the turn of this century.
To those of you with personal experience of the sudden, unexpected and tragic loss of someone in the Police Service, whether you are here today, viewing from home or attending one of the many services within your constabularies, I can only offer the assurance of my most heartfelt thoughts and prayers.
On behalf of the nation, I would particularly like to express my profound gratitude for the valour and sacrifice of those who have laid down their lives to keep us safe; to remember their families who mourn and to recognize those who continue to serve in order to safeguard our freedoms. Whilst our expressions of appreciation will always be hopelessly inadequate and, unfortunately, make the anguish no easier to bear, I do pray that this Memorial will not only provide a hallowed place for us all to pay tribute to each of them, but also the reassurance that those who have given their lives so selflessly will leave a lasting legacy and will never be forgotten.