Eamon Keating, Chairman of the Defence Police Federation, looks back on the terrible events in Westminster and how officers – and the public – have reacted since.
The horrific murder of PC Keith Palmer at the Palace of Westminster hit the police family hard.
Our thoughts go out to PC Palmer’s family, friends and colleagues; we also extend our sincere condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives that afternoon on 22 March and thoughts remain with those injured. Including our Met Police officer colleagues.
Every one of our members will have been hit hard by this incident – not least because many of them carry out similar or identical roles to that of PC Palmer at the time of his death.
This has really highlighted the vulnerability of our members in the Defence Police Federation who frequently spend their days in close contact with unknown individuals. Yes, a significant number of MDP officers work under several layers of security, but they still have to manage and control points of entry and exit and carry out external patrols. And many work in high profile locations in close proximity with the public.
We are working with the Ministry of Defence Police to examine the level of protection police officers are working under and to examine any vulnerabilities which may or may not have been found following the attack. We will also look at reviewing roles or policy if necessary.
But the important thing to note is that we will not see any change to the way police officers interact with the public they serve. Our members may be nervous, but it is absolutely clear from all the conversations I have had with the public, within the other federations and with the force that there has been a deep recognition of – and gratitude for – the amazing work carried out by the whole of the police family.
We were very measured in the work we did alongside Met colleagues in London after the incident. We didn’t react in a way that created a distance; instead we created a closer relationship with the public and that has to be championed. That is down to the professionalism of police officers who are after all, just ordinary people doing an extraordinary job at a difficult time in very difficult circumstances. They had the right attitude and I commend them for that.
There was a tremendous outpouring of love following the incident – through flowers sent to stations, words of thanks to police officers, and hundreds of thousands of pounds donated to PC Palmer’s crowd fund. So if there is any comfort to be taken following this appalling attack, it is that police officers have the support of the Great British public – 100 per cent.