Hundreds of officers and support staff have set off this morning, Friday 26th July, from across the UK to ride to remember and recognise police officers and staff who have been tragically killed on duty.
The annual UK Police Unity Tour sees forces from all over the country riding hundreds of miles over the next few days. They’re coming together at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire for a service on Sunday 28th July to remember those who have fallen.
This morning in Hull, officers, retired officers, support staff, motorcycle outriders and volunteers set off early from Police HQ on Priory Road to complete the 180 mile long ride to Staffordshire. They’ll be stopping off at Worksop and Tamworth along the way.
The tour is raising money for charity Care of Police Survivors (COPS) who provide support to the surviving families of police officers and staff who have been sadly killed.
The families of some of those officers were invited along this morning and took part in a special service held in the grounds of the headquarters.
Representatives from Humberside, Cleveland, and North Yorkshire Police who are all part of the collective North East ‘Chapter’ are cycling the route over the next three days. They’ll be joining the service of remembrance alongside hundreds expected to attend at the Arboretum.
Chief Constable Lee Freeman who is taking part in the ride said: “This is about supporting colleagues who have sadly paid the ultimate sacrifice. It’s also about reminding the families, loved ones and children of those officers killed on duty that those officers are not forgotten.
“They can see their colleagues coming together to remember them and support the families left behind.
“For me like probably every Chief Constable, I’ve walked the streets and know how dangerous it can be sometimes. The headlines are out there about the number of officers assaulted every year.
“Sadly some of our officers can get seriously injured and very sadly killed on duty. It’s really important that we support those left behind. This reminds us all we’re part of a big family and that we are an organisation that doesn’t forget.
“This is a very small thing that we can do to show that we are a family, we do support you, and those lost ones are not forgotten.
“The COPS charity has made a massive difference to people’s ability to continue with their lives.”
Paul Bone, the father of PC Fiona Bone who was killed in Manchester in 2012 alongside her colleague PC Nicola Hughes attended this morning.
Mr Bone said: “It’s a great privilege to attend something like this. I suspect none of the riders knew Fiona as she was based and lived in Manchester but all the riders are riding for a victim.
“It’s a privilege to see the enthusiasm and effort the police put into this for the COPS charity.
“Fiona enjoyed her job. We miss Fiona’s bubbly smile and voice. People always say they miss her and the support she gave them. The impact is ongoing for us.
“We do lots of things and events with the police, go to memorials and such like. The police community and federation have really stood up and supported us.
“There’s nothing more we could have asked for from the police then and now.”
Retired Chief Constable of Cleveland Police Ian Spittle said: “This is my fourth time riding for COPS. It’s an amazing charity that supports those who are left behind when an officer tragically dies or is killed while on duty.
“It’s so important to support the children and the families who are left behind. I’ve seen the work the charity do. I find it quite emotional.
“The challenge – we’ll be riding nearly 100 miles today, then getting on the bike again tomorrow. We’ll see. We’ve just got to get there.”
We’d like to thank Morrisons supermarket for providing water and food for the riders
To donate to COPS just go to their website https://ukcops.org/
Follow the tour online @PolUnityTourUK @UK_COPS and @UKPUTNorthEast