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Wednesday, 15 January, 2003, 09:21 GMT
Risks on the front line
Greater Manchester Assistant Chief Constable Alan Green

Police colleagues have reacted with shock to the death 40-year-old Stephen Oake in a counter-terrorism raid in Manchester.

His death is the first by stabbing since 1997 when London WPC, Nina MacKay, was killed while attempting an arrest and the first to die in a suspected terrorist operation in England since special constable Glen Goodman was shot by IRA terrorists in 1992.

You would have expected officers involved in this sort of counter-terrorism operation to have had protection

Sergeant Anthony Rae, Police Roll of Honour Trust

In Northern Ireland, RUC Constable Frank O'Reilly was the last officer to die as a result of the violence there.

He died a month after being hit on the head by a blast bomb during loyalist rioting in Portadown, Co Armagh, on 5 September, 1998.

Since the beginning of 2000, 31 officers have died in the line of duty with around two a year killed "unlawfully".

The majority are killed during road accidents.

As a reaction to overwhelming demand from relatives and colleagues, a group of officers - giving their time voluntarily - have set up a roll of honour for those killed in duty.

Sergeant Anthony Rae, from Lancashire Police and chairman of the Police Roll of Honour Trust, said police forces had learnt to give officers better protection through body armour and armed back-up.

He told BBC News Online: "You would hope all officers would wear body armour at all times because you never know when danger may come.

"You would have expected officers involved in this sort of counter-terrorism operation to have had protection."

Grieving families

The Police Roll of Honour, available online, aims to record each officer killed on duty.

PC Yvonne Fletcher
PC Yvonne Fletcher was shot outside the Libyan Embassy

The trust is also due to launch a support network for grieving families in coming weeks.

Mr Rae said: "There is a real need for it.

"Police forces are big organisations and often the families are largely forgotten once the aftermath of the death has passed.

"Police forces are often simply not in a position to continue looking after them.

"We want to take on that work."

The last fatal stabbing of an officer came when PC Mackay was attacked by a paranoid schizophrenic in October 1997.

There is no silver lining here but this team of officers have managed to arrest these people

Paul Kelly, Manchester Police Federation

Other high profile deaths have included the shooting of PC Yvonne Fletcher in February 1984 outside the Libyan Embassy, and the murder of PC Keith Blakelock, who was hacked to death during the Broadwater Farm riots in London in 1985.

Paul Kelly, National Police Federation spokesman in Manchester said everyone in the force was "devastated" by the latest death.

He said: "This officer made the ultimate sacrifice.

High profile police killings
Frank O'Reilly (1998) - hit by home-made grenade during riot
Nina McKay (1997) - stabbed while attempting arrest
Glen Goodman (1992) - shot by IRA
Yvonne Fletcher (1984) - shot outside Libiyan Embassy
Keith Blakelock (1985) - killed in Broadwater Farm riots

"There's no price that's worth paying for a young life and certainly a police officer dying compounds it, but I'm just speechless.

"There is no silver lining here but this team of officers have managed to arrest these people."

Jan Berry, chairman of the National Police Federation, said the death was a "tragic incident".

She said: "These events demonstrate the role police officers play every day in the fight against international terrorism.

"Yet again, an officer has given his life. Our thoughts are with his family and colleagues at this time."

See also:

10 Jan 03 | England
22 Nov 99 | Politics
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