Westminster skids to a halt again, for conferences, giving me time for things I couldn’t otherwise do. I’ve baked oodles of cakes for sale in aid of MacMillan Nurses; joined a campaign to save the Old Spotted Dog and attended a poignant Police Commendation Award Ceremony.
The ceremony recognised the bravery and dedication of serving police officers and members of the public. It was a lovely occasion. A chance to express our gratitude.
Especially apposite was to learn our local officers were honoured for incidents that occurred whilst off duty. Without protective equipment, police radio or regard for their personal safety, they intervened in dangerous situations.
Afterwards, we talked. Civilians and officers alike asked about the cuts to front line policing and whether things would get worse.
Since the Coalition took power, they have inflicted savage Police cuts, resulting in the loss of 6,800 front-line officers. More cuts are coming. Despite the joy of the commemoration, I was left in no doubt whatsoever of the terrible damage done to Police morale.
Members of the public also received awards for extraordinary acts of bravery. I met two women who bravely ran from their home to rescue a woman being assaulted. I have reason to thank someone who similarly helped me 30 years ago. I know such acts carry real risks and I will always be very grateful to the man who helped me.
Recent tragic events in Manchester remind us our Police officers demonstrate courage and devotion to duty daily. The commitment they show must not be acclaimed simply by awards. We must recognise their value to our communities and support them in the difficult job they do, for us, every day.
I had no words of comfort for officers wanting reassurance about this Government’s intentions. Sadly they didn’t expect any.