First Minister Paul Givan has said that a new national police memorial "serves as a lasting reminder of the high price paid by the men and women who put their lives at risk day and daily to keep us safe”.
The Prince of Wales also paid tribute to the "valour and sacrifice" of police officers and staff as the memorial was dedicated to those who have "laid down their lives to keep us safe".
Standing in the shadow of the new UK Police Memorial in Staffordshire, Charles expressed thanks on behalf of the country to the men and women who have put themselves in harm's way to protect the nation.
He unveiled a plaque at the monument, which commemorates almost 5,000 police officers and staff who have died on duty — 1,500 from acts of violence — since half-brothers Henry and John Fielding established the Bow Street Runners in 1749.
Mr Givan laid a wreath and said the memorial was a fitting tribute to those who had lost their lives to protect us all.
He said: “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all those police officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in serving their communities and protecting their fellow citizens.
“This beautiful and iconic memorial in the peaceful setting of the National Memorial Arboretum serves as a lasting reminder of the high price paid by the men and women who put their lives at risk day and daily to keep us safe.”
Former PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde, chairman of the Police Arboretum Memorial Trust, began the ceremony by telling guests: “This memorial is an important symbol of the past, the present and the future.
“For the past it places a marker that someone’s life mattered and they are honoured for what they gave. To say, albeit always imperfectly, to their loved ones ‘thank you’, we recognise your loss and are here for you.
“For the present they remind us all, of the courage, commitment, resolve and dedication of police officers and staff to serve their calling day by day.
“Recognising that sometimes duty takes them to dangerous places, crossing a threshold — as this memorial represents — unsure of what lies beyond and where they place themselves in ‘harm’s way’, sadly sometimes with a costly loyalty.
“And for the future the inspiration for others to put themselves forward to join the police service, to serve our communities and protect us from harm.”
Families of police officers who have been killed on duty were among the invited guests, as was Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Priti Patel, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick, and chief constables from various forces. Mark Lindsay from the Police Federation for Northern Ireland also attended.
Charles told the invited guests at the ceremony: "To those of you with personal experience of the sudden, unexpected and tragic loss of someone in the police service, whether you are here today, viewing from home, or attending one of the many services within your constabularies, I can only offer the assurance of my most heartfelt thoughts and prayers.
"On behalf of the nation, I would particularly like to express my profound gratitude for the valour and sacrifice of those who have laid down their lives to keep us safe, to remember their families who mourn, and to recognise those who continue to serve in order to safeguard our freedoms.”
A minute's silence was held to remember those who have died in the line of duty.