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Commissioner on her annual pilgrimage to mark the passing of an icon to policing

Dignified salute from Britain's top cop that pays her respect down the years to PC Yvonne Fletcher's memory
Published - 17/04/2019 By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle

Britain’s top officer has spoken of her annual pilgrimage to the memory of a “terrible event” 35 years ago that shook policing to its foundations.

Hidden from the hustle and bustle of London’s troubled streets, Met Commissioner Cressida Dick tarries a moment before giving a respectful salute to the memory of one of her own – PC Yvonne Fletcher.

On April 17, 1984 shots rang out from the Libyan People’s Bureau that claimed the life of the 25-year-old Met officer.

PC Fletcher was murdered in an act of state-sponsored terrorism. Shot in broad daylight, her death evoked a powerful reaction from both public and officers alike.

Her death, says the Met commissioner, is “as poignant” today.

Every year, on the anniversary of her senseless killing, the commissioner visits her memorial in London’s St James Square and lays a wreath to remember and pay tribute to the fallen PC.

Commissioner Dick said: “I was a young officer in the Met 35 years ago when Yvonne was shot.

“In 1984 I worked from West End Central – just half a mile from St James’ Square.

“That terrible event shook all of us who were in the Met at that time.

“All these years later there may be fewer people who directly experienced the impact of those events still in the Met, but as a police family we still collectively feel her loss.

“Today we mark her death and remember the contribution she made as a valued colleague and as a police woman, dedicated to the public, and we think of her family.”

Back in the 1980s policing demonstrations was not unusual.

The one outside the Libyan building was one of approximately 400 held in the capital each year.

It should have been a routine task. Tragically that was not to be.

The female officer was observing the demonstration when just after 10.15am a number of shots were fired from an automatic weapon – from within the bureau.

PC Fletcher was shot in the back. Without thought for their own safety, fellow officers ran to her assistance as she lay on the ground and despite their efforts, she died a short time later at Westminster Hospital.

To mark the 35th anniversary of her death, these words have been posted by the Met as a fitting tribute: “As a police officer you expect your job to be unpredictable.

“You value the absolute privilege of helping the vulnerable and keeping the public safe. You see the darkest sides of people, the damage they do to each other and those experiences are lodged with you, driving you to follow every lead to find the evidence to get dangerous offenders off our streets.

“You keep your fitness training up, knowing it will help you as you take on dangerous situations, as others run from it.

“You know all this yet you never expect that one day you’ll go to a job and won’t come home.”

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