Open Letter To Trustees Of Police Arboretum Memorial Trust

Posted on March 4, 2016 | Category :Uncategorized | Comments Off

Denis Gunn

WE, THE families of the UK’s police officers who have lost their lives while on duty, have waited many years for a fitting memorial to honour our officers.

It was with great anticipation  that we looked forward to the official launch of the proposed new memorial. In general terms the design has been well accepted but the matter of whether or not the officers’ names should be physically included on the memorial is the outstanding issue still to be finalised.

Last year COPS conducted an online survey that showed more than three-quarters of the respondents strongly believe that the memorial should list the names of the fallen officers. If names are to be included then 83% believe all names (thought to be between 4,500 and 5,000) should be listed as opposed to just those officers who were killed through criminal acts (approximately 1,600) who are the only officers commemorated in the book within the police memorial on The Mall in London.

With regard to the purpose of the memorial, 81% stated that it was essential to commemorate those who have given their lives in policing and when asked if we need a new memorial, 70% stated “Yes, but only if it features the names of the fallen officers”.

In response to what the new memorial will mean to them 89% stated “a lot”, or “everything”, 20% and 69% respectively.

Regarding the frequency with which our respondents would visit the memorial, 88%  replied “occasionally” or “regularly” (34% and 54% respectively) but, again, only if the names feature on the memorial. Without the names the figure dropped drastically to 25% (19%  and 6% respectively) while 23% said they would never visit the memorial if it has no names.

It would be easy to assume that these statistics are from survivors only but the families of fallen officers accounted for only 29% of those who took the survey, with nearly twice as many, 57%, being retired (31%) or serving (26%) police officers.

Based on the survey there appears to be an overwhelming desire to see the names of all fallen officers on the new memorial.

The iconic military memorial at the arboretum bears the names of those who have died serving in the British Forces since the end of WWII so it seems right that the police memorial should also include the names of the fallen.

I appreciate that engraving the names of our officers on the memorial will incur an additional cost and create some difficulties, but the names must surely be the basis of the memorial. We regularly see photographs or news items showing people reaching out to touch the name of their loved one on memorials such as the Scottish Police Memorial and to me a memorial without names is simply not appropriate. Would such a memorial draw non-survivor visitors to it? Perhaps. Would it satisfy the vast majority of families of the fallen officers? No!

The proposal to show names ‘virtually’ should only be considered as an additional feature, for our officers were real-life officers, not virtual. If we want to see their names on a screen and read about those officers who made the ultimate sacrifice we can do so at home, by browsing the Internet.

So, following the launch of the memorial on Wednesday 24 February, on behalf of those families who have already endured the unimaginable I ask  that the trustees of the Police Arboretum Memorial Trust ensure the fallen officers’ names appear permanently on the memorial.

Please don’t hurt the families yet again.

Denis Gunn
National President
Care Of Police Survivors


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