The news in recent days has quite rightly been dominated with the tragic death on duty of PC Andrew Harper from Thames Valley Police. A death on duty is fortunately a very rare event in the UK but I am very conscious that it can be a very thin line between serious injury and a death and that Police Officers put themselves in extremely dangerous positions and circumstances every single day in order to protect and serve the public. I am never entirely sure that the public quite get how dangerous being a Police Officer can be and the physical and wellbeing risks that our Police Officers face every time that they step out, not merely on duty but often when off duty. This was very much brought home to me when I attended the PFEW Bravery Awards in London last month. I was amazed how many of the nominations and recipients of the awards, had carried our extraordinary acts of courage when off duty seeing a crime being committed that they felt that they needed to respond to immediately, often leaving the sides of family members who they were out with, to confront dangerous criminals.
The PTC works very closely with Police Scotland and the Police Service Northern Ireland and their respective Federations and I know that exactly the same circumstances are true with their Police Officers as well. Two weeks later, I also had the privilege of attending the Care of Police Survivors Service at the National Memorial Arboretum on 28th July 2019. It was a tremendous turnout from across the policing family. What I hope will be reassuring for Andrew Harper’s family, friends and colleagues in the years to come, is that it was very clear to me that the sacrifice of fallen colleagues will not be forgotten but will still be remembered for many decades to come.
In other much more mundane news, although the summer can be a somewhat quieter period for admissions for both our Centres as our prospective patients either take some leave themselves, or end up covering for colleagues who are themselves on leave, we have maintained a very decent occupancy level and managed to get most people in to the centres who want to come fairly swiftly. The Donor Engagement Team have been literally everywhere over the last month trying to link in with as many current and potential new donors as possible. We genuinely do believe that we have the very best treatment centre within the policing landscape. We also accept the fact that we simply cannot sit on our laurels, but we do need to explain and on occasions justify to our donor base, who we are and what we do and part of this needs personal contact with people at briefings, meetings and conferences.
I have also welcomed the opportunity to get out a bit on my travels this last month, after being fixed in my office recently focussing on some day to day operational issues. This external engagement and talking to some of our front line Officers, remains one of the best parts of my job and helps also to inform the direction that we hope to take the PTC to in future years. There has been some welcome returns from some of this engagement. I attended and spoke at the Scottish Police Credit Union Dinner in early August where the PTC were one of the nominated charity beneficiaries. We were also extremely pleased to receive the excellent news that His Highness Sheikh Al Maktoum, who has been a very generous supporter of the PTC in recent years, has recently made another large donation to support our work and in particular the Wellbeing provision.
We have also welcomed a number of visitors to the PTC in the last few weeks to include Chief Constable Simon Chesterman from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, Chief Constable Carl Foulkes from North Wales Police, Luke Graham the Member of Parliament for Ochil and South Perthshire and the Mayor of Harrogate. These visits and many others are an important part of our plan to raise awareness of the PTC and everything that we do and of course in trying to raise money for the PTC, whether it be in persuading a visiting Chief Constable to make a donation, or for a visitor not from the police service, to think about perhaps offering us some support as one of their charity beneficiaries.
As well as this slightly unusual extra activity, we have also started getting the PTC ready for its Investors in People Assessment this year. We recently ran our annual Strategic Planning Meeting for Trustees and Senior PTC Management Team to consider the future direction of the PTC and of course St George’s Police Children’s Trust. One of the conclusions of the meeting was that we are in a strong position but we need to remain alive to changes in the policing landscape. Both charities must evolve and develop to ensure that when our beneficiaries need us, we are able to provide the very best support possible to them, in a manner reflective of the standards and expectations of the world that we now live in. One of the fantastic developments that the Trustees agreed, was a further improvement of the already very strong financial support package to current and future St George’s beneficiaries. We will be doing some publicity about this in the next month.
I would like to end this blog on a St George’s Police Children’s Trust note. This charity is not as widely known as the PTC, but it is such a fantastic charity that provides a tremendous range of financial support benefits to all our children and young people beneficiaries. I continue to be staggered that every Police Officer does not join automatically. It is literally pennies to join (35 pence each week and £18 per annum), and should tragedy strike or an officer be forced to take early medical retirement, it offers an unparalleled range of benefits. What is more, if you are a Student Officer it is free for the first 12 months but you can become a beneficiary. I cannot think of a single reason why anyone would not want to donate to this charity. Please look at the link below (if you are reading this blog online), and get the message out.
I think that is enough for this blog, and I hope to see many of you at one of our centres in 2019.
Patrick Cairns, CEO PTC