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Star comment: Facing risk daily in the line of duty

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We tend to forget the risks that policemen and women take on a daily basis. All too often, the boys and girls in blue are criticised, or taken for granted. We fail to appreciate the dangers they face or the way in which they themselves can fall victim to offences, while trying to protect others.

It is fitting, therefore, that a new police memorial will help us to remember fallen policemen and women, who have died in the line of duty.

The project is intended for Alrewas, at Staffordshire’s National Memorial Arboretum. It is the perfect location. After all, the Remembrance Centre is beautifully designed and is deserving of its new RIBA Award for great architecture. It will provide a place of solace and peace for friends and family of those who have died.

Many in Shropshire will remember the tragic death of PC Richard Gray, who was killed in 2007 after being sent to a property where two fellow police officers were being held hostage. He will be one of 1,400 police officers and staff whose valour and bravery will be remembered. Westminster PC Keith Palmer is another whose courage and sacrifice will be remembered at the £4 million centre.

It is quite right that so much national attention is focused on armed forces personnel who lose their lives in conflicts at home but mostly overseas. Men and women have fought bravely to protect the freedoms and liberty that we daily enjoy, paying the ultimate price.

And yet they are not the only ones who put their bodies on the line. There are others who rush in when others run away. There are heroic and gallant figures who dare to go whether others will not.

And while the number of police fatalities each year is mercifully low, each one is a cause for alarm. Officers should not leave home in the morning for a normal day’s work never to return. Families, like those of PCs Gray and Palmer, should not be left with a lifelong void nor the trauma of sudden and unexpected loss.

And so it is entirely appropriate that a national monument is being created that will honour the fallen and remind us of their immense courage in the line of duty. For most, policing is more than just a job. Officers are often proud to serve and we might reflect on that.

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