We were all shocked by events at Crawley College which took place last Monday, 26th April, in an incident where a man possibly carrying a firearm and knife were reported.
The bravery and calmness of college staff is to be commended, as they instinctively acted to ensure the safety of students and colleagues.
Particular praise has rightly been afforded to two Crawley College employees, a teacher and a member of support staff, who detained the suspect.
While I am concerned to note that the two members of staff sustained minor injuries, we can be reassured that the College have announced that both will make a full recovery.
I also send my gratitude to Sussex Police officers who were quick onto the scene with a comprehensive, appropriate and significant presence, quickly disarming the suspect.
Such incidents are mercifully rare, and what happened last week highlights once again the bravery shown by officers, both armed and unarmed, every time they walk onto the front line on our behalf to keep us safe.
It is right that police officers have our thanks and that this is recognised in how they are supported.
Alongside the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, I have been active in the introduction of a Police Covenant. This will specifically address the needs of those currently and previously working in policing, and their families.
The Police Covenant recognises the dangerous and varied responsibilities of those who work in the police force. I welcome the Government accelerating work to introduce this by enshrining it in law through the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Bill. I have voted in Parliament in favour of this legislation which will enhance support and protection not only for people working in the police, but those retired from policing roles too, with eligibility to cover paid and volunteer work.
It is to be based on the principle that people currently or previously in such roles do not suffer any detriment as a result of their service. The Police Covenant will also seek to ensure that every officer can access the same standard of Occupational Health support in every force.
There will be a statutory duty for the Home Secretary to report annually to Parliament on the work undertaken in this regard. The Covenant is expected to be a concept that evolves, changing over time as new and emerging priorities and issues are identified and addressed.
The focus on health and wellbeing, physical protection and support for families, and Government’s emphasis on mental health support is one I am proud to back in the House of Commons.
Henry Smith MP