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Ford: we must never forget the police officers who died for us

Society must never forget the sacrifice of police officers who have given their lives in the line of duty, a memorial service has heard.

Stormont Justice Minister David Ford told guests at the annual National Police Memorial Service in Belfast that officers who serve the community must not be taken for granted.

Home Secretary Theresa May joined police chiefs and friends and families of fallen officers from around the UK at the event in the Waterfront Hall, held in Ulster for the first time since 2006.

Mr Ford paid tribute to police who paid the ultimate price.

He said: “Police officers regularly put their lives on the line serving all sections of the community and we should never take what they do for granted. The people of Northern Ireland are served by some of the best police officers in the world, who are working in very difficult, challenging and dangerous circumstances.

“I want to express my sincere gratitude to all officers who give so much to the community on a daily basis and today, in particular, to the officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice. My thoughts are with the families of those who mourn their loved ones. Society must never be allowed to forget their selfless service.”

The memorial day service rotates around the UK each year. Seven officers were added to the roll of honour in the past 12 months, including PC Bill Barker who was swept to his death in the Cumbrian floods.

The rest, including PC Ian Godfrey from South Wales died in road accidents.

The National Police Memorial Day was founded by Sergeant Joe Holness in 2004.

After the service, PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott said it was an honour to welcome colleagues to Belfast.

“This was a fitting tribute to police not only in Northern Ireland but everywhere who have selflessly given their lives in the course of their duties,” he said.

“The sacrifice made by these courageous officers will never be forgotten. Every day thousands of ordinary men and women with a sense of duty, pride and professionalism put on their police uniform — a uniform that reflects what they do and what they believe in.

“These officers deal with serious harm every day knowing their lives are constantly at risk. For that, I commend their bravery, courage and dedication.

“Today's service was a reminder to us all that in serving and protecting our communities, these brave men and women sometimes pay the ultimate sacrifice.”

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