The chair of Dyfed Powys Police Federation says the Home Secretary’s failure to introduce an Elizabeth Medal was “a slap in the face” for the loved ones of fallen officers.
Gareth Jones said he was disappointed that the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) Medals for Heroes campaign was not signed off by Suella Braverman when she spoke at the annual conference.
The campaign calls for the creation of an award to recognise police officers and emergency services workers who make the ultimate sacrifice in the line of their duty.
It was anticipated by many that the award would be introduced by the Home Secretary at the conference.
Bryn Hughes MBE - who has been a driving force behind the campaign after his daughter PC Nicola Hughes was killed on duty - made a special trip to Manchester, where this year’s online conference was being filmed, in anticipation of an announcement.
Bryn Hughes (right) has been a driving force behind the Medals for Heroes campaign, which has support from Wales's First Minister Mark Drakeford (left).
Gareth said: “I was really disappointed that the Home Secretary didn’t go to conference with some good news and say that the Elizabeth Medal was going to be happening.
“It was a bit of a slap in the face for loved ones who were anticipating an announcement. It was all an anti-climax.
“You’d have thought that Suella Braverman as the Home Secretary would have the ability and the powers in her role to say ‘yes, let’s make it happen’.
“But she did say in her speech that a decision may be imminent, so hopefully an announcement will be made soon.
“In the meantime, we’ll continue to push for it to recognise those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in serving their communities.”
Mental health support line
Gareth welcomed the Home Secretary’s announcement of additional funding to establish a 24/7 mental health crisis support line for current and former police officers.
He said: “Our members are under more strain than ever before, which is bound to have an impact on mental wellbeing.
“The Home Secretary’s announcement for a 24/7 crisis line is welcome, but it’s long overdue.
“She now needs to listen to the Federation and work with us to ease the strain on our members so that their mental health is protected in the first place.”
Gareth was reflecting on the two-day annual conference, which this year was held online.
He said: “I thought it worked really well.
“It’s not quite the same as in-person and that opportunity to network, share experiences and to build contacts.
“However, with members not having to travel, it allowed for more to be able to take part.”
Gareth said the discussions were lively and interesting and showed the best of the Federation.
“The conference highlighted some of the fantastic work being done by the Federation,” he said. “The session on disclosure and redaction was insightful, and the one on wellbeing was really good too.
“They showed the best of the Federation that when we come together on issues we’re a really powerful force.”
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