A still and sombre scene; PCC Katy Bourne reflects from the site of the Shoreham Air Show tragedy
“Those were the words that came to mind as I approached the site of Saturday’s tragic air crash on the A27 at Shoreham.
“There were none of the usual smiles from the police officers who passed me, just grim-faced nods of acknowledgement as they continued their meticulous and painstaking search for evidence.
“I have already spoken of the professionalism shown by members of the emergency services I have encountered since Saturday’s events; of their calmness and compassion in the face of such devastation. I know I couldn’t do their job and I am extremely thankful for their dedication and courage.
“I have seen how the police pull together in times of crisis; Special Constables coming in after the ‘day job’ has ended to volunteer as scene guards and specialist officers from neighbouring forces in Kent, Surrey, Hampshire and Devon & Cornwall supporting the police operation.
“Several senior police colleagues and members of the public from across the country have recognised this commitment and sent personal messages of support. The Home Secretary called me this morning with her sincere thanks and praise for all our emergency services. She explained that she had offered a national response but that “Sussex Police had just quietly got on with it.” They are a credit to our nation.
“The community response has also been overwhelming and I am grateful to all those individuals and organisations that have put their ‘daily business’ aside to assist the police at this difficult time. Marks and Spencer kindly donated clean, dry socks to officers working round the clock in adverse weather conditions and the local supermarkets are providing food and drink to officers and volunteers.
“Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club has given over its entire local training facility to the emergency services so they have a base from which to coordinate briefings and shift patterns. Having spoken with Paul Barber I know the team there have been deeply affected by the loss of two local footballers, one of whom was a member of their grounds team.
“This terrible incident has rocked the whole community and we are seeing the community respond collectively – from the Red Cross volunteers supporting the emergency crews to local people coming out of their homes with cups of tea and cake for officers at the scene. Residents from further afield have tolerated road diversions and delays to their journeys without fuss, highlighting how this event continues to touch each and every one of us.
“Many officers have witnessed shocking scenes and I am reassured that a plan is in place to help them come to terms with what they’ve seen and dealt with. My office is also working closely with partners to put in place the best support for the local community as they try to cope and recover from the impact of this terrible tragedy and this will be available for as long as it is needed.
“Today (Wednesday) I will be joining the Chief Constable and other senior local leaders to lay flowers at the footbridge in Shoreham as a mark of respect for those who have lost their lives. They will remain in all our thoughts.”