The Prince of Wales will lead tributes to fallen police officers on National Police Memorial Day (NPMD) – two days after the death of a police sergeant in south London.
The annual remembrance service, which honours officers who have lost their lives on duty, will be held virtually for the first time in its 17-year history due to restrictions caused by coronavirus.
It comes following the death of Sergeant Matt Ratana, who was killed by a handcuffed suspect at Croydon Custody Centre in the early hours of Friday.
Investigations into Sgt Ratana’s death are ongoing and tributes have poured in from friends, colleagues and local sports clubs.
He is the eighth police officer in the UK to be shot dead in the last 20 years.
Ex-policing minister Mike Penning said poor attitudes towards officers started with politicians, who he accused of “hampering and undermining normal police officers”.
“This lack of respect comes from the top, for me. It filters down from senior management and our politicians,” he wrote in The Sun.
“Simply, they are not backing officers.”
Charles will address the nation ahead of the service, which will be led by the National Police Chaplain, Rev Canon David Wilbraham, and will feature pre-recorded messages from families who have lost loved ones.
The messages were filmed under lockdown restrictions, and candles will be lit in remembrance of the deceased officers in each of the UK nations.
Lissie Harper, wife of Pc Andrew Harper of Thames Valley Police, who died in August 2019 aged 28, will light the candle for England.
Rebecca Davies, daughter of Pc Terry Davies of Gwent Police, who died in August 1990 aged 34, will light the candle for Wales.
Louie Johnston, son of Reserve Constable David Johnston of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, who died in June 1997 aged 30, will light the candle for Northern Ireland.
Chief Constable Iain Livingstone will light a candle in Scotland.
The British Police Symphony Orchestra will play I vow to thee my country, with more than 60 musicians having recorded contributions from their homes across the UK.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will pay tribute to the fallen officers who “represent the very best of us”.
For the first time in its history, our annual #NPMD20 service will be streamed online tomrrow at 3pm via https://t.co/cpUrAg8NDRWe hope you're able to join us and remember our fallen officers, lost in the line of duty, it will mean so much to their family, friends and colleagues pic.twitter.com/QmRKAEXScn
— NATIONAL POLICE MEMORIAL DAY (@npmd2020) September 26, 2020
“They laid down their lives to prevent us from coming to harm and we owe them a huge debt,” he said.
“The dedication and selflessness that they showed in serving their communities will never be forgotten.”
Mr Wilbraham said he was “immensely proud” that a solution had been found to allow the service to go ahead and that he stood “in virtual solidarity” with the affected families.
“Not being able to meet physically leaves a void, especially for those whose pain is lifelong,” he said.
“I am immensely proud that we pulled together to try to fill that void with our online service and I thank the families who contributed.
“This is an honourable day and a poignant reminder of the dangerous nature of policing. We stand in virtual solidarity to pay our respects.”
John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “Policing comes with a huge amount of risk and this is at the forefront of our minds, even more so following the devastating news on Friday when our colleague in the Metropolitan Police was killed.
“National Police Memorial Day ensures that police officers who gave their all are never forgotten.
“We must always remember them – their commitment and ultimate sacrifice to public service.
“Every day police officers selflessly put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of others – I thank them, and I am proud to represent them.”