King's Police Medal

The King's Police Medal (KPM) is awarded to police in the United Kingdom for gallantry or distinguished service. It was also formerly awarded within the wider British Empire, including Commonwealth countries, most of which now have their own honours systems. The medal was established on 7 July 1909,[3] initially inspired by the need to recognise the gallantry of the police officers involved in the Tottenham Outrage.[4] Renamed the King's Police and Fire Services Medal (KPFSM) in 1940, it was replaced on 19 May 1954 by the Queen's Police Medal (QPM), when a separate Queen's Fire Service Medal was also instituted. The current award was renamed the King's Police Medal following the death of Queen Elizabeth II in 2022 and the accession of King Charles III to the throne of the United Kingdom.

King's Police Medal
King's Police Medal for Distinguished Service, King George VI version
Awarded for"acts of exceptional courage and skill at the cost of their lives, or exhibiting conspicuous devotion to duty"[1]
Presented byUnited Kingdom and Commonwealth of Nations
EligibilityMembers of the Police Force
StatusCurrently awarded
Established7 July 1909
19 May 1954 (as Queen's Police Medal)
QPM ribbons for Gallantry (left) and Distinguished Service (right)
Order of Wear
Next (higher)George Medal (QPM for Gallantry)
British Empire Medal (QPM for Service)[2]
Next (lower)Queen's Fire Service Medal, for Gallantry (QPM for Gallantry)
Queen's Fire Service Medal, for Distinguished Service (QPM for Service)[2]
RelatedFormerly awarded as King's Police Medal (1909–40), King's Police and Fire Services Medal (1940–54)

Between 1909 and 1979, the medal was bestowed 4,070 times, for both gallantry and distinguished service, including dominion and empire awards. A total 54 bars and one second bar were awarded in this period.[5]


King's Police Medal

The original KPM, despite its name, was also be awarded to members of recognised fire brigades. It was originally intended that the medal should be awarded once a year, to no more than 120 recipients, with a maximum of: 40 from the United Kingdom and Crown dependencies; 30 from the dominions; and 50 from the Indian Empire. More could be awarded in exceptional circumstances. Those who received a further award were to wear a silver bar on the ribbon in lieu of a further issue, or a rosette where the ribbon alone was worn.[3] Initially recipients were required to have shown:

(a) Conspicuous gallantry in saving life and property, or in preventing crime or arresting criminals; the risks incurred to be estimated with due regard to the obligations and duties of the officer concerned.

(b) A specially distinguished record in administrative or detective service.

(c) Success in organizing Police Forces or Fire Brigades or Departments, or in maintaining their organization under special difficulties.

(d) Special services in dealing with serious or widespread outbreaks of crime or public disorder, or of fire.

(e) Valuable political and secret services.

(f) Special services to Royalty and Heads of States.

(g) Prolonged service; but only when distinguished by very exceptional ability and merit.[3]

Provision was also made for the forfeiture of the award in the event of a recipient later being convicted of a criminal offence.[3]

Minor amendments to the warrant were made on 3 October 1916.[3][6] On 1 October 1930, changes were made to the forfeiture provisions, no longer specifying grounds for forfeiture, but also allowing the medal to be restored again.[7] The 1932 New Year Honours list specified those medals awarded for gallantry.[8] On 27 December 1933, the warrant was officially amended to introduce distinctions as to whether the medal was awarded for gallantry or for distinguished service, by adding an appropriate inscription to the reverse, and adding a central red stripe to the ribbon for gallantry awards. The award criteria were changed so recipients had:

either performed acts of exceptional courage and skill or exhibited conspicuous devotion to duty; and that such award shall be made only on a recommendation ... by the Secretary of State for the Home Department.[9]

In 1936, amendments of 25 May gave greater provision for territories to opt to award their own equivalent medals.[10] Further minor amendments were made on 15 December.[11]

King's Police and Fire Services Medal

On 6 September 1940, the name was changed to the King's Police and Fire Services Medal to better reflect the eligibility of fire service personnel.[3][12] There was no longer any limit on the number to be awarded in one year.[3]

The last award of the medal for gallantry to a living recipient was in 1950, after which time it was awarded only posthumously.[5]

Queen's Police Medal

In a warrant of 19 May 1954 the current version of the medal, named the Queen's Police Medal was introduced;[13] at the same time a separate medal for the fire service was created, the Queen's Fire Service Medal.[1]

The most common form of the current award is the Queen's Police Medal for Distinguished Service. The Queen's Police Medal for Gallantry, which can only be awarded posthumously, has only been awarded 34 times since 1954[5] and has not been awarded since 1977, since which time the Queen's Gallantry Medal can also be awarded posthumously. Notable acts of gallantry in the police service normally now attract the George Cross, George Medal, Queen's Gallantry Medal or the Queen's Commendation for Bravery.

On 11 March 2022 the Queen approved amendments to the Royal Warrant to expressly state that members of the Special Constabulary in England and Wales were eligible for the medal, with members of the Special Constabulary in Scotland already eligible.[14]

Over time, many Commonwealth countries have created their own police medals, replacing the issue of the QPM to police in those countries. For example, Australia created the Australian Police Medal in 1986. It did not supersede the QPM which continued to be awarded to Australians until 1989. On 5 October 1992, Australian Prime Minister, Paul Keating, announced that Australia would make no further recommendations for British honours.[15] The Australian Order of Wear states that "all imperial British awards made to Australian citizens after 5 October 1992 are foreign awards and should be worn accordingly".[16]

King's South African Medal (South African version)

The South Africa version was introduced in 1937, awarded on the same basis as the British medal. It had a similar design, but with differences in its inscriptions, including a bi-lingual reverse. A total of 30 medals for gallantry and 17 for distinguished service were bestowed, with the last award in 1960.[17]

Post-nominal letters

Recipients may use the post-nominal letters QPM, KPM or KPFSM, as appropriate, although the right to use these was only granted officially on 20 July 1969.[18]


It is a circular silver medal, 36 mm in diameter, with the ribbon suspended from a ring. While the basic design has remained the same since 1909, there have been a number of changes.[5]

  • The obverse has the profile of the reigning monarch with an appropriate inscription:
  • The reverse depicts Saint Michael, patron Saint of Police officers, holding a sword and shield at rest depicting that whilst armed and ready, he prefers peace. The exergue of the 1909 issue contains a laurel spray, but in 1933 this was replaced with the inscription For Distinguished Police Service or For Gallantry. Since 1954 the distinguished service version has the wording inscribed around the edge of the medal, with a laurel spray in the exergue, the gallantry version remaining unchanged.
  • The name, rank and force of the recipient is inscribed on the rim of the medal.
  • The 1.38 inches (35 mm) wide ribbon was originally dark blue with a silver stripe at each edge. In 1916 an additional central silver stripe was added with, from 1933, a thin red stripe down the middle of each silver stripe for awards for gallantry.

See also


  1. "No. 40196". The London Gazette. 4 June 1954. pp. 3335–3336.
  2. "No. 56878". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 March 2003. p. 3352.
  3. "No. 28269". The London Gazette. 9 July 1909. pp. 5281–5282.
  4. "An outrage that appalled a nation". BBC. 23 January 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2009.
  5. Abbott, PE; Tamplin, JMA (1981). British Gallantry Awards. Nimrod Dix & Co. pp. 186–195. ISBN 0902633740.
  6. "No. 12998". The Edinburgh Gazette. 13 October 1916. p. 1848.
  7. "No. 33651". The London Gazette. 10 October 1930. p. 6172.
  8. "No. 33785". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1931. pp. 13–14.
  9. "No. 34009". The London Gazette. 29 December 1933. p. 8426.
  10. "No. 34291". The London Gazette. 5 June 1936. pp. 3578–3579.
  11. "No. 34355". The London Gazette. 29 December 1936. pp. 8415–8416.
  12. It's an Honour—Australia honouring Australians—Imperial Awards—King's Police and Fire Services Medal Archived 23 June 2006 at the Wayback Machine, Commonwealth of Australia, 22 January 2009. Retrieved on 4 February 2009.
  13. "No. 40196". The London Gazette. 4 June 1954. pp. 3333–3334.
  14. "Special Constabulary changes". Orders & Medals Research Society Journal. 61 (3): 195. September 2022. ISSN 1474-3353.
  15. A matter of honour: the report of the review of Australian honours and awards, December 1995, pp. 21–22
  16. "The Order of Wearing Australian Honours and Awards". Australian Government, Department of Defence website. Retrieved 5 November 2022.
  17. Abbott, PE; Tamplin, JMA (1981). British Gallantry Awards. Nimrod Dix & Co. p. 192. ISBN 0902633740.
  18. "Orders and Medals". The Journal of the Orders & Medals Research Society of Great Britain. 8–9: 178. 1969. The use of post-nominal letters was consolidated for the first time in the list of 1955. This has remained unchanged to the present time but will require amendment now that the holders of the various British Police and Fire Service medals have been given official permission to use the letters KPM, KPFSM, QPFSM, QPM and QFSM, to put them in order of date of inception.
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