The gunman who shot a Metropolitan Police custody sergeant inside a station had been stopped by officers on the pavement outside a block of South London flats, MailOnline can reveal.
A cordon remains at Anderson Heights, Norbury, from where the suspect, 23, was taken to Croydon custody centre before shooting 54-year-old Sergeant Matiu Ratana with his hands supposedly cuffed behind his back.
Footage captured in the early hours of Friday shows the suspect walking on the London Road in the direction of Streatham when he was stopped by a squad car outside the five-storey apartment as unsuspecting motorists drive past.
At 1.44am a rapid response vehicle arrives, followed two minutes later by a police van. The suspect is seen taken into the van at 1.47am.
It is unclear as to whether he was searched or handcuffed at the scene, but he did not appear to be behaving aggressively and seemed to cooperate with the officers.
Minutes later, a third police car arrives to block London Road as the police van leaves with the suspect at 1.50am.
Just after the van pulls away, three officers start searching a bush and shrubbery on the edge of the car park to the block of flats.
Officers were manning the tower block this morning, where a blue Peugeot and silver Vauxhall Corsa were seen inside the cordon and a stairwell next to the apartments has been taped off.
Scotland Yard is under mounting pressure to explain how the suspect managed to apparently conceal the revolver down his trousers and then open fire on the veteran officer from New Zealand while in handcuffs.
Sources said officers failed to find the suspect’s gun as it had been well hidden and would have been recovered only with an intimate strip search and body cavity check.
Sergeant Matiu Ratana, who was 54, was allegedly shot five times in the chest at point-blank range during the incident on Friday
Sergeant Ratana (pictured with his partner Sue) was allegedly shot by a 23-year-old man who was detained for possession of ammunition at Croydon custody centre in South London
Officers were manning the tower block this morning, where a blue Peugeot and silver Vauxhall Corsa were seen inside the cordon and a stairwell next to the apartments has been taped off
Sergeant Ratana was allegedly shot five times in the chest at point-blank range as he prepared to search the handcuffed suspect, who had been detained for possession of ammunition and Class B drugs with intent to supply, with a metal detector in a Covid screening cell.
Tributes from loved-ones, colleagues and politicians have flooded in for the rugby-loving ‘big friendly bear’, who was months away from retirement.
Sergeant Ratana was a coach at East Grinstead Rugby Football Club and leaves behind a grown-up son and partner Sue Bushby who he lived with in Goring, Sussex.
Ms Bushby’s mother Penelope today said her daughter was with Sergeant Ratana for ‘six wonderful years’.
Talking exclusively to Mail Online, she revealed that Sue had also lost her father Roy earlier this year and that Sergeant Ratana had been a pillar of strength.
The gunman, who was arrested by a special constable on patrol with two regular officers, is in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the neck from his own weapon.
Scotland Yard has launched a probe into the background of the suspect, who was deemed a ‘potential terror threat’ and had been referred to the Prevent programme which aims to stop vulnerable people being drawn into extremism, it has been claimed.
Footage captured in the early hours of Friday shows the suspect walking on the London Road in the direction of Streatham when he was stopped by a squad car outside the five-storey apartment as unsuspecting motorists drive past
A police cordon remains at Anderson Heights, Norbury, where the 23-year-old suspect was taken to Croydon custody centre before shooting 54-year-old Sergeant Matiu Ratana with his hands cuffed behind his back
Flowers are laid this morning outside Croydon Custody Centre where Sergeant Ratana was shot dead
Met sergeant’s killing reignites demands for better protection of frontline officers
A former senior Met Police official has called for better protection for officers following the fatal shooting of Sgt Matt Ratana.
Andy Trotter, former deputy assistant commissioner of the Met and also a former chief constable of British Transport Police, said increasing sentence lengths was not enough to prevent crime against emergency workers.
He told Times Radio: ‘The challenges the police face, the violence they face, is much wider than this and it won’t be solved by pushing up a sentence by 10 years.
‘It’s got to be much more around the numbers of police officers… the protective equipment they’ve got and not just the police.
‘Fire, ambulance they’re all facing lots of attacks. We see attacks on shop workers, we see attacks on hospital staff. We are increasingly becoming a very difficult society to police.
‘We need to look right across the board on this and just saying we’re going to put the sentences up will not solve that. It’s got to be about prevention and detection, and much more than just that.’
The suspect was arrested on suspicion of possessing ammunition and Class B drugs with intent to supply. Cannabis resin is understood to have been found on his person.
They searched the suspect after he was seen behaving strangely before handcuffing him and driving him to the police station.
Sergeant Ratana – who has a 26-year-old son from a previous relationship – was about to search the handcuffed suspect with a metal detector in a Covid screening cell when the man produced a revolver that he had stuffed down his trousers.
The 23-year-old fired the gun with his hands still handcuffed behind his back hitting the veteran officer allegedly several times in the heart at point-blank range.
In the ensuing chaos the attacker’s weapon went off again, wounding him in his neck, but he remains alive in a critical condition. The suspect is believed to be autistic and of Sri Lankan origin, according to The Times.
Sergeant Ratana was airlifted to hospital after desperate medics performed open heart surgery on him in the custody centre, The Sun reports.
Sergeant Ratana, who’s job was to look after the care and welfare of detained people, died in hospital.
Originally from Hawke’s Bay, he came to the UK in 1989 and became a protection officer for Princess Diana, the Queen Mother and former-Prime Minister John Major, The Mirror reports.
And, in 1992, the hero officer found himself less than 330 yards away from an IRA car bomb which was exploding outside 10 Downing Street.
Friend Amanda Tessier, a community nurse, whose sister Sue Bushby has been in a relationship with the officer for four years, said: ‘He was a great big friendly bear of a man, one of the loveliest men you could meet.’
Father-of-one Sergeant Ratana has been described by his fellow officers as a ‘real gentleman’ and ‘one of the best’ while Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick said he was known as a ‘big guy’ with a ‘big heart’.
Last night New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was ‘incredibly sad news’ one of her country’s former police officers had died.
Sergeant Ratana, who was a coach at East Grinstead Rugby Football Club, came to Britain from New Zealand
The inspirational police officer (pictured) had thrown himself into coaching and was looking forward to being able to focus fully on nurturing future rugby stars in his retirement
After moving to Worthing in West Sussex six years ago, Matiu Ratana took over as head coach of East Grinstead Rugby Club, helping youngsters develop their game
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick and Home Secretary Priti Patel observe a minute’s silence inside the atrium at Scotland Yard, London
Father-of-one Sergeant Ratana, who was a coach at East Grinstead Rugby Football Club, has been described in tributes as ‘great big friendly bear of a man’ and ‘one of the loveliest men you could meet’
Questions for Scotland Yard chiefs after sergeant’s death
Was he searched on arrest – and how thoroughly?
The procedure followed by the arresting police will depend on the circumstances when the suspect was detained. It is thought he was brought into the station, so how thoroughly was he searched during and after the arrest?
And then, once he was inside the police station was a more thorough search authorised by the custody officer?
Custody officers may authorise a strip search which could find weapons hidden around a person’s body, secreted away from their clothes and pockets.
What we know so far is that Sergeant Ratana was set to search the suspect with a metal detector when he was shot.
How did officers miss that he was carrying a gun?
Questions are being asked how on earth a criminal suspect was able to get a gun into a police station, which are supposed to be some of the most secure buildings in the country. It also raises the possibility he may have been able to get through a metal detector with the firearm on him.
Mick Neville – a former Detective Chief Inspector – told The Sun that ‘criminals have been known to strap guns to their upper leg or even push the barrel into intimate areas leaving just the hand grip showing. Even the most experienced officer could miss this.
‘The sergeant could have been more exposed to danger due to Covid-19 procedures.’
Did the suspect have the murder weapon on him the whole time?
It is presumed that the suspect had the gun on him throughout the entire period of his arrest. There will be questions to establish exactly when he had the gun on his possession and for how long, given how rare the illegal weapons are in the UK.
Some reports have suggested guns are easily obtainable in Croydon – often costing just £30.
Was the car searched to ensure nothing was hidden?
Officers must also search vehicles before and after use to make sure items have not been hidden. The College of Policing guidance says: ‘Staff must always consider whether they should exercise their powers to search before placing a detainee in a vehicle.’
Did the police leave him unsupervised at any point?
Police have the power to search a person on arrest and use reasonable force to conduct these. After a suspect has been searched on arrest ‘they should not be left unsupervised until they have been presented to the custody officer, who will decide whether or not a further search is necessary’.
Did the new Covid booking rules affect the situation?
New Covid-19 checks brought in as the pandemic intensified mean suspects often have to wait in a holding area to have their temperature checked in case they have coronavirus symptoms. There are therefore questions over whether a full search had taken place before the suspect’s temperature could be checked.
Do special constables normally arrest people over a firearms offence?
Special constables have all the same powers as police officers despite being volunteers, and so they can carry out any type of arrests. The special constable who is said to have arrested the suspect would have also been with a normal officer.
Was the suspect being watched by counter-terror police?
The suspect was allegedly known to counter-terrorism police and had previously been on their radar. Questions will therefore be raised over the level of searches carried out on the suspect. Under the Police Reform Act 2002, escort officers have the power to search people being taken to or from a police station and seize evidence while in transit from the place of arrest.
Mrs Tessier added: ‘He was absolutely dedicated to being a police officer and had almost 30 years of service. He knew the dangers of being a police officer in London and he had spoken about them but for him it was all part of the job. It was something he was trained in and used to.
‘He was such a lovely guy. He was a big friendly guy. He liked to keep fit and loved his rugby but he also liked a burger or two. We simply can’t believe it. How did someone have a gun in the police station?
‘I’m sure there is going to be a huge investigation by the Met but it doesn’t seem right at all.’
Mrs Tessier said her sister was devastated by the news and was being comforted by friends.
She said: ‘They had been together for about four years. She got a knock on the door in the morning. It’s just devastating. We can’t believe it. He was the life and soul, a real fun-loving guy who was totally committed to doing his job.’
She said he was a passionate rugby fan who coached players. ‘They’ll be devastated by this. He coached the juniors as well,’ she said, breaking down in tears. ‘It’s just awful.’
Police protocol decrees this cannot be done by the roadside and requires authorisation from a sergeant at a custody centre.
The detained man was in a Covid screening cell, which is part of custody procedure during the pandemic, when he launched the attack. Two officers pounced on the suspect in a bid to stop him.
It came as Sergeant Ratana opened the cell door to search him with a metal detector.
The force have launched a investigation, focusing on why the gun was not found when he was searched.
Mick Neville – a former Detective Chief Inspector – told The Sun that ‘criminals have been known to strap guns to their upper leg or even push the barrel into intimate areas leaving just the hand grip showing. Even the most experienced officer could miss this.
‘The sergeant could have been more exposed to danger due to Covid-19 procedures.’
Sgt Ratana, known as Matt to family and friends, thought working in the custody suite was his ‘safest option’ as he neared the end of his lengthy police career, friend Neil Donohue said.
Mr Donohue told BBC Breakfast: ‘He thought it was his safest option just to see him through to his retirement and no-one expected this to happen – certainly not within the police cells.’
Sergeant Ratana is the grandson of Iriaka Ratana, the first Maori woman MP, and cousin of New Zealand Labour MP Adrian Rurawhe, who told the NZ Herald: ‘Everyone is really devastated to hear the news he has passed.
‘He was really proud to be a police officer, he was also really proud to be Maori from New Zealand.’
He added to Sky News: ‘It’s really sad that he’s gone too soon, but also the nature of how he’s gone. The whole family’s feeling devastated.’
A 1996 magazine printed quotes from the sergeant in which he said: ‘I’ve got this photo of me as a kid wearing a police helmet.
‘One of my uncles sent it over. I don’t remember growing up wanting to be a policeman. But now that I am I wouldn’t change it for anything.’
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he visited the family to pass on his condolences. Other tributes on social media said ‘what a waste’, ‘you will be missed my friend’, ‘so sad, what a lovely man’ and ‘sleep well Maui’.
Community leader Donna Murray-Turner described the officer shot dead this morning as ‘warm, intelligent and funny’.
She told MailOnline: ‘He was a good person. He helped me in setting up stop and search workshops. I will work with anyone who wants to make change and he was one of those people.
‘I would just want his family to know he was loved by them and he was loved by members of the community.’
A friend who lives on the same street as the sergeant said: ‘Matt was a lovely, lovely man. We are in shock.
‘He was softly spoken and very kind. A wonderful neighbour. And he was so much into his rugby. We learned this morning about what had happened. Very shocking news.’
Flowers are laid this morning outside Croydon Custody Centre by colleagues honoring Sgt Ratana who died in the line of duty
He is the cousin of New Zealand Labour MP Adrian Rurawhe, who said: ‘Everyone is really devastated to hear the news he has passed’
People headed to the Croydon Custody Centre today to mourn Sgt Ratana
Mask-wearing paramedics were among the crowds which descended on the Custody Centre in Croydon to pay their respects
Mourners head to the custody centre on Saturday to pay their respects to Sgt Ratana, 54, who was shot dead on Friday morning
What is the police protocol for searching suspects?
When police detain a suspect they must follow a protocol on carrying out searches.
The College of Policing sets out a string of procedures officers should follow when conducting a search, saying that this is ‘important’ as it reduces the risk of harm to staff, protects the safety of a suspect and ensures any potential evidence can be seized.
Section 54 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) gives officers the power to search someone who has been arrested on arrival at a police station.
After a suspect’s arrival at the police station and for the duration of their time there, these rules apply to constables and designated detention officers.
Staff are subject to training on searches and refresher courses.
This can include a strip search, although officers are not encouraged to automatically resort to carrying these out unless considered necessary.
Codes of practice require the custody officer to explain the reasons for the search to a detainee and how it will be conducted, as well as ensuring it is done so with ‘respect and dignity’.
Separate powers also allow searches at any other time if a custody officer believes a detainee is in possession of an item which could injury themselves or anyone else, damage property, allow them the tamper with evidence, or escape.
This law also gives officers the power to search a person on arrest and use reasonable force to conduct these.
After a suspect has been searched on arrest ‘they should not be left unsupervised until they have been presented to the custody officer, who will decide whether or not a further search is necessary’.
Meanwhile, under the Police Reform Act 2002, escort officers have the power to search people being taken to or from a police station and seize evidence while in transit from the place of arrest.
Officers must also search vehicles before and after use to make sure items have not been hidden.
The College of Policing guidance says: ‘Staff must always consider whether they should exercise their powers to search before placing a detainee in a vehicle.
‘In large-scale public order situations it may be safer to remove the detainee from the incident and then conduct the search.
Glenn and Debbie Stobart lived next door to Sergeant Ratana in Coulsdon, south London, for a number of years before he moved to Worthing.
Mrs Stobart, a close friend, said: ‘He was a fantastic man. He was always helping others. If you were concerned about anything he would answer your concerns.
‘He was so caring, funny, everyone knew him. He was a really big character.
‘The first day he moved to the area he came and knocked on the door and introduced himself and everyone got to know him from then. He absolutely loved his job and being a police officer. He was so proud to serve the community.
‘He was looking forward to retirement next year but was unsure what he was going to do with all that spare time, so he threw himself into the rugby even more. He loved helping the kids out and it gave him a real purpose.’
Holding back tears as she discussed his killer, she added: ‘They should throw away the key.
‘How could someone get into a police station with a gun? It beggars belief.’
Sergeant Ratana is the tenth police officer to have been killed in the line of duty in the past decade, with the last being Andrew Harper in Berkshire in August 2019.
PC Harper’s widow Lissie Harper said that it was ‘utterly devastating’, adding: ‘What is happening to our world?’
Friday’s incident marks the first time a UK police officer has been shot dead on duty in eight years after Dale Cregan killed Greater Manchester Police officers Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone in September 2012.
Scotland Yard have not yet confirmed if he was on the radar of counter-terrorism police following the claims made by BBC News.
However, it is believed that he had been referred to the Prevent programme. The programme is a government-led multi-agency scheme, involving the Home Office, counter-terrorism police and other authorities, which aims to prevent vulnerable people being drawn into extremism.
He was identified over possible links to Right-wing and Islamic extremism but nothing was found to warrant a counter-terrorism investigation.
Shocked and tearful colleagues laid flowers throughout the day, with 11 police officers marching toward the custody centre at one point to leave floral tributes with a poem.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘My deepest condolences go to the family, friends and colleagues of the police officer who was killed in Croydon last night. We owe a huge debt to those who risk their own lives to keep us safe.’
Scotland Yard said no police firearms were discharged, and they were informing the officer’s relatives and supporting them with specialist officers.
A number of policing colleagues changed their social media profile pictures to black, with a blue line, as a mark of respect to the officer, who had been in the police force for nearly 30 years
His former girlfriend Claudia Lynn, who lived with the officer for six years, said he had come over from New Zealand and forged a career in the police. She said they split up four years ago after meeting in 2010. She is a former special constable.
She said: ‘We moved down here together from London where we were living at the time. I wasn’t in touch with him anymore but I had seen him around on the odd occasion.’
Met Police officer Stuart James tweeted: ‘This morning my team and I responded to the worst possible radio transmission from custody, words and scenes I shall never forget.
‘The unimaginable happened to our police family. We have lost not only a good skipper but also a real gentleman. One of the best. RIP brother.’
Community police officer Jacqueline Kufuor burst into tears after laying flowers outside the centre in tribute to her colleague. She said that the deceased officer was ‘a lovely guy’ and ‘the nicest man I have ever met’.
She said: ‘You never expect this to happen when you go to work. For him to have been in custody and for this to have happened, it is just so sad.’
She said: ‘He was a very lovely man. He was such a nice man. When he sees you, he would just stand and talk to you. He would ask you about your job and how your are coping and how you are doing out there. So when I ever had issues, I would just talk to him.’
Neil John-Baptiste, 44, a recovery driver of Thornton Heath in south London, drove down to the centre to lay flowers. He said: ‘I just think that a police officer has lost his life in the course of doing his duty.
‘I think it is really disheartening what happened here today. These are just flowers but it is a mark of respect. Things have got to change.’
A forensics officer is pictured yesterday at Croydon custody centre in South London following the incident on Friday
Sadiq Khan, Commissioner Dick and Ms Patel all solemnly bowed their heads as they silently remembered the officer who died
The man was being detained at Croydon custody centre in South London (pictured on Friday) when the incident took place
What is ‘Prevent’ and how do authorities use it to combat terrorism offences?
Prevent is a government-led multi-agency scheme, involving the Home Office, counter-terrorism police and other authorities.
As part of the scheme, police work with local authority partners and community organisations to help find solutions and work to support and protect vulnerable people from being drawn into terrorism.
If a person is assessed as being a terrorism risk, they may be referred to the Home Office’s Channel programme.
The Channel programme is part of the Prevent strategy, and focuses on providing support at an early stage to people who are identified as being vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism.
At this point, they maybe given help from a mentor.
Following assessment, many referrals to Prevent do not result in any further police action, say counter-terrorism police.
In some cases other organisations such as health, housing or education step in to provide support instead.
The three key points of the Prevent Strategy are to:
– Responds to the ideological challenge we face from terrorism and aspects of extremism, and the threat we face from those who promote these views
– Provide practical help to prevent individuals from being drawn into terrorism and ensure they are given appropriate advice and support
-Work with a wide range of institutions (including education, criminal justice, faith, charities, online and health) where there are risks of radicalisation that we need to deal with.
Dame Cressida said Sgt Ratana was known as a ‘big guy’ with a ‘big heart’.
She said: ‘A lovely man, respected by his colleagues, officers, staff and of course by members of the public, including, I may say, suspects arrested or dealt with in custody.
‘He was very well known locally and he will be remembered so fondly in Croydon and missed there, as well as in the Met and in the rugby world.’
Dame Cressida said he leaves behind a partner and an adult son from a previous relationship.
She said he joined the Met in 1991, adding: ‘He was a talented police officer, captain of his recruits training class.’
He first worked in Charring Cross before working in Hillingdon and Hackney.
She urged the public not to speculate about his death, saying: ‘I do understand that there is great concern about how this happened, how this could have happened.
‘I want to reassure everyone the facts will be established, we owe that to Matt. We owe that to his family and of course we owe that to other police officers.
‘But we do need to give the investigators the space to do their job and I must say that speculation at this time is unhelpful and may even harm our efforts.’
Dame Cressida’s New Zealand counterpart Andrew Coster wrote on Twitter: ‘New Zealand Police today acknowledges the death of serving Met Police officer, and former New Zealand Police officer, Sergeant Matiu Ratana, known as Matt.
‘Sergeant Ratana was already an experienced officer in the UK when he joined New Zealand Police as part of the first British High Commission Wing, Wing 212, in 2003. He served in Auckland City and Counties Manukau until 2008, before returning to the UK.
‘As my counterpart Commissioner Cressida Dick of the Metropolitan Police has expressed this morning, policing is a family. While Sergeant Ratana spent most of his career in the UK, anyone who serves here will always be a part of our New Zealand Police whānau.
‘We send our condolences to his friends and family here and abroad, and his colleagues in the Metropolitan Police and across the UK who will be deeply feeling this loss today.’
New Zealand’s PM Ms Ardern said: ‘Incredibly sad to hear news this morning that a Metropolitan Police officer killed in the UK was Matiu Ratana, a former New Zealand Police officer.
‘Sergeant Ratana worked in Auckland City and Counties Manukau until 2008, before returning to the UK. To all Matiu’s whanau across the world, we share your sorrow and have all our condolences.’
John Davies, a former colleague of Sgt Ratana, said he was a ‘truly remarkable, strong and unique individual’.
Mr Davies, 58, worked with Sgt Ratana for the Metropolitan Police from 2002 to 2004.
He said: ‘Matt and myself were both police officers on Hillingdon Borough, west London, and worked closely together for those years.
‘I’d just like to say that he was a truly remarkable, strong and unique individual. He would have left an impression on all those he came into contact with.
‘He was a great guy and will be sorely missed.’ He described Sgt Ratana as a ‘proud Maori’.
Community police officer Jacqueline Kufuor said: ‘Sgt Ratana was a lovely guy’ and ‘the nicest man I have ever met’.
She said: ‘He was a very lovely man. He was such a nice man. When he sees you, he would just stand and talk to you.
‘He would ask you about your job and how you’re coping and how you are doing out there. So when I ever had issues, I would just talk to him.’
A grieving friend said Sergeant Ratana left rugby training just hours before he was murdered. He described the victim as a ‘leader amongst men.’
Paul, 27, who did not provide his last name, said the officer played as a prop for East Grinstead Rugby Club in Sussex and had been head coach for the last four years.
Speaking outside the detention centre on Friday, wearing a training top of the West Sussex team, he said his teammate was a ‘giant of a man’ who turned the side into a winning machine.
Paul, who works in recruitment, said: ‘He was coaching the colts, then was head coach when it became available.
‘He was a leader amongst men, the team started winning nearly every game, it was definitely because of him, his never say die attitude to keep battling, that was just who he was and he instilled that in the team.
‘He played as a prop, he was a giant of a man.’
Speaking about his teammate, he became emotional before adding: ‘We’re all just devastated, it’s all quite overwhelming, it’s hard to believe what’s happened.
‘He was close to retiring from the force. It’s sad that the force are put in that position, they are just men and women doing their jobs. It’s unfortunate because they’re on the front line, it’s bad, but no one deserves that.
‘I saw him last night, we trained with the team and he left training to come to his night shift.’
After moving to Worthing in West Sussex six years ago, Sergeant Ratana took over as head coach of the club, helping youngsters develop their game.
He had been an outstanding player himself, even turning out for now professional side London Irish among a host of other London clubs. He had learnt the game at Palmerston North Boys’ High School, which has produced a number of All Blacks.
England Rugby’s Twitter account read: ‘Our thoughts and those of the entire rugby family are with the family and friends of Sergeant Matt Ratana. Head coach at East Grinstead Rugby who gave so much to our sport.’
Three years after arriving in Britain he married Teresa Conway in Slough and the couple had a son, Luke, the following year.
They later separated and his ex-wife and son are thought to have emigrated to Australia. Friends said Sergeant Ratana had remained very close to Luke.
Sergeant Ratana sent a WhatsApp message to his players at East Grinstead rugby team at 1.34am this morning which read ‘good session tonight team’, reports suggest. He was shot less than an hour later.
A friend told the BBC: ‘A few years ago I was experiencing financial problems. He came in one day and gave me 200 quid out of the blue, I said ‘no no, I can’t accept that’- and gave it back to him. But the next day he wired it into my account. That’s the sort of guy he was.’
Scotland Yard said it had referred the incident to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) which will lead an independent investigation.
Speaking at the Home Office, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: ‘I’m deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic killing of the officer in Croydon overnight.
Police lined up while socially distanced outside the Windmill Road Custody Suite in Croydon on Friday following the incident this morning
Police officers held a minute-long silence in memory of the officer following the shooting on Friday at a custody suite in Croydon
Attacks on police hit record high with more than 84 assaults in England and Wales EVERY DAY
The killing of a Metropolitan Police officer by a gunman has put the record number of attacks on officers back under the spotlight.
Sergeant Matiu ‘Matt’ Ratana, 54, was allegedly shot five times in the chest by a 23-year-old man detained at Croydon custody centre in South London in the early hours of Friday.
A recent landmark report from the National Police Chiefs Council found that 88 per cent of officers have been assaulted at least once in their career.
Figures from last year also showed there were 30,679 assaults in England and Wales – equivilant to 84 each day.
The year prior, in 2018/19, 71,308 sick days were taken during 2018/19 as a result of assaults.
A survey of 40,000 officers found 34 per cent of officers said their personal safety training was inadequate, prompting the launch of a national curriculum to ensure standards across all 43 forces.
Lissie Harper, the widow of Pc Andrew Harper, the last officer to be killed in the line of duty, is campaigning for tougher laws to hand life sentences to those convicted of killing emergency workers.
Reacting to Sergeant Ratana’s death, she said yesterday: ‘This is devastating news. No person should go to work never to return.
‘No human being should be stripped of their life in a barbaric act of crime. Another hero has been taken from us in unwarranted violence.’
‘All our thoughts are with the officer’s family, friends and colleagues across the Metropolitan Police force, but also policing family across the country.
‘This is a sad day for our country as once again we see the tragic killing of a police officer in the line of duty as they’re trying to protect us and keep us safe.
‘Later on today I’ll be meeting with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to discuss the investigation that is currently taking place, and of course the Metropolitan Police Service now need the time and the space to get on with the inquiry that now needs to follow.’
IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem yesterday said: ‘Today a Metropolitan Police (MPS) officer has tragically died in the line of duty and we extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues and all of those affected by this shocking incident. The MPS is conducting a murder investigation into the officer’s death.
‘A 23 year old man remains in a critical condition in hospital. When a member of the public dies or is seriously injured while in police custody the Independent Office for Police Conduct’s (IOPC) role is to independently investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.
‘We began our investigation in the early hours of Friday 25 September and our investigators have been at Croydon Custody Centre in Windmill Road, south London, gathering evidence. Our investigators are also in the area where the man was detained gathering relevant CCTV evidence.
‘We will be looking at all of the police contact with the man from the time he was detained leading up to today’s tragic incident. It is understandable there will be speculation and questions asked about how this incident unfolded and we are seeking answers. It is important that we independently establish the sequence of events.
‘Given the clear trauma suffered by those officers who were present during the incident, they have not yet provided their initial accounts. The work to obtain these will continue next week.
‘We have obtained CCTV from the custody centre and body worn video footage from the officers present. This will be reviewed and analysed over coming days.
‘What we have established is that the man was arrested for possession of Class B drugs with intent to supply and possession of ammunition. The man was handcuffed to the rear before being transported to Croydon Custody Suite in a police vehicle where he was escorted into the building. He remained handcuffed to the rear and seated in a holding area in the custody suite.
‘His handcuffs remained in place while officers prepared to search him using a metal detector. It is at the point that shots were fired resulting in the fatal injuries to the officer and critical injuries to the man. A non-police issue firearm, which appears to be a revolver has been recovered from the scene. Further ballistic work will be required.
‘The MPS is conducting a separate murder investigation into the death of its officer, and we are working to ensure our investigation does not impact its enquiries.’
Leroy Logan, a former Metropolitan Police superintendent, said there were a number of questions to be answered around the circumstances which led to the shooting of an officer at a police station.
He told BBC News: ‘The first thing you want to know is how did this happen?
‘How did that person come to be in the station whether it’s in the yard or the building itself and be able to produce a weapon, whether it’s on them at the time.
‘It depends on the calibre of the weapon, because obviously if it’s a small weapon and it can be easily in that person’s clothing, then obviously it brings another question on how thoroughly that person was searched, if at all.
‘Those are the things the department for professional standards will look at and the Independent Office for Police Conduct as well as the investigating officers who will have to look at this thing thoroughly.
‘Because there’s a lot of learning and obviously there’s a lot of pain for the family and friends and colleagues of that officer who has fallen in the line of duty.’
A police officer lays flowers outside Croydon custody centre in South London this morning
Speaking to BBC News, former Metropolitan Police superintendent Mr Logan said the procedure followed will depend on the circumstances in which police came into contact with a suspect.
He said: ‘It depends if that person was arrested outside the police station and has been transported in a vehicle. Invariably these officers will search that individual to make sure they haven’t got anything that can harm other people or themselves.
‘Or try and hide any material whether it’s drugs or any sort of articles that they shouldn’t have.
‘That’s standard procedure and of course that’s for security reasons just in case they have got a weapon.
‘There are circumstances where someone might turn up at the custody suite area itself in the reception and are led straight through.
‘So not knowing all of the details, how this person got into the secure area of the station, whether it’s outside the building or in the yard or whatever, we just need to try and find out what’s happened because the details are very, very scant.’
Police are investigating the incident after a custody sergeant was shot in the early hours
Former Metropolian Police officer Dal Babu told LBC Radio: ‘A full body search, you’d expect that to take place at the time of the arrest.
How the custody sergeant is the tenth police officer to have been killed in the line of duty in the past decade
The custody sergeant is the tenth police officer to have been killed in the line of duty in the past decade. The other nine are as follows:
- Andrew Harper, 28, Thames Valley Police – Killed on August 15, 2019 after being dragged by a vehicle while investigating a burglary report
- Gareth Browning, 36, Thames Valley Police – Died on April 1, 2017 after being struck by a suspect’s vehicle while deploying a stinger in 2013
- Keith Palmer, 48, Metropolitan Police – Stabbed on March 22, 2017 in the Westminster Bridge attack
- David Phillips, 34, Merseyside Police – Run over on October 5, 2015 during a police pursuit
- Andrew Duncan, 47, Metropolitan Police – Run over by a suspect on September 22, 2013
- Adele Cashman, 30, Metropolitan Police – Collapsed on November 5, 2012 pursuing robbery suspects
- Fiona Bone, 32, and Nicola Hughes 23, Greater Manchester Police – Shot dead on September 18, 2012
- Ian Dibell, 41, Essex Police – Shot while off duty on July 9, 2012 as he was confronting an armed man
‘The once they’re in the police station you might do a more thorough search, the custody officer may authorise a strip search, and that’s when you may find other weapons on individuals.
‘For safety purposes officers are advised to carry out the search at the time of the arrest.
‘Officers are having to travel some significant distances to take prisoners to custody suites.’
Steve Reed, Labour MP for Croydon North, said his thoughts were with the officer’s family and colleagues.
He tweeted: ‘All of us in Croydon are in shock at this heartbreaking tragic news.’
Mr Reed, 46, left a floral tribute at the scene with party chair Mohammed Islam, 46.
Mr Islam was ‘deeply touched’ by the incident as his son Shakz, 23, is waiting for his start date to become a police officer covering Westminster, Fulham and Chelsea.
He said: ‘This is why I am really really touched by what has happened. It’s very shocking and devastating news as I never thought something to this extent could happen in this day and age.
‘I really feel for the family. The bravery the emergency services show in protecting us is incredible. I know that my son will also show this courage and not be deterred by this awful event.’
His son Shakz Islam, 23, said: ‘When I heard an officer had been shot dead, I was absolutely shocked. My brother kept calling me to tell me someone had been killed a custody officer.
‘It’s absolutely appalling but does not put me off wanting to become an officer. If anything it makes me want to protect the public more and shows the career is worthwhile.’
Brother Zak Islam, 20, added: ‘It’s just such a surprise that it’s happened here. A custody station like this is supposed to keep people safe.
‘I just don’t get how the gun wasn’t found during a search before he was taken into the building. It may have prevented it from happening. I’ve grown up here my whole life and like living here.
‘It is a bit rough but crime seems to have seriously dropped since the police station was built around five years ago.’
Recovery driver Neil Garcia, 44, heard a helicopter circling overhead after he returned from work shortly after 1am. He added to the bunches of flowers left outside the custody centre.
What are special constables and can they arrest people?
Special constables are volunteer police officers who work with and support their local force.
They spend an average of four hours a week supporting detectives and after completing training have the same powers as regular officers, unlike PCSOs or police support volunteers.
This therefore means a special constable is entitled to arrest someone in exactly the same way as a normal officer.
Their main role is carry out local intelligence-based patrols and to take part in crime prevention initiatives in problem areas.
Among their duties they conduct foot patrols; assist at the scene of accidents; carry out house-to-house enquiries; provide security at major events and tackle anti-social behaviour.
They are not paid but do receive expenses, and are recruited locally by all 43 Home Office police forces in England and Wales.
Mr Garcia said: ‘It’s not a surprise to hear a helicopter round here late at night but I saw the devastating news this morning. I thought it was only right to lay flowers today because a human being has lost their life at the end of the day.
‘There might be a lot of tension between young people and the police around here but it’s the same with many communities.
‘While I don’t know this officer, I know a lot of good people in the police who helped me turn my life around when I was younger so this has touched my heart.
‘These people are just doing their job out of love for the communities they serve and there’s no way something like this should happen to them.’
Meanwhile Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: ‘Horrific to hear of a police officer being shot and killed in Croydon.
‘Our police put themselves in harm’s way every day to keep us safe. All my thoughts are with the officer’s family, friends and colleagues.’
London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: ‘Devastated by this news. My heart goes out to the family of this brave officer, who has paid the ultimate price for helping to keep Londoners safe.
‘Tragic incidents like this are terrible reminders of the dangers our police officers face every single day.’
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland tweeted he was ‘shocked and saddened’ by the news.
He said: ‘My thoughts are with the officer’s loved ones, colleagues and the wider police community.’
A London Ambulance Service spokesman said: ‘We were called at 2.16am this morning to reports of an incident on Windmill Lane, Croydon.
‘We sent two ambulance crews, an incident response officer, an advanced paramedic and two medics in cars. We also dispatched a London’s Air Ambulance trauma team.
A police van outside Croydon custody centre this morning after an officer was shot dead
Home Secretary Priti Patel released the above statement following the sergeant’s death
It is believed to be the first time a police officer has been shot and killed on duty since September 2012 when Dale Cregan killed PCs Fiona Bone (left) and Nicola Hughes (right)
‘My heart is broken’, says PC Andrew Harper’s widow Lissie
Lissie and Andrew Harper
Lissie Harper, the widow of Pc Andrew Harper who was killed on duty last year, said in a statement: ‘This is devastating news. No person should go to work never to return. No human being should be stripped of their life in a barbaric act of crime.
‘Another hero has been taken from us in unwarranted violence.
‘They protect us but who protects them? Another life is gone in a disgraceful act that reminds us of the danger our police officers face with every shift they begin.
‘My heart is broken for yet another member of our blue line family, and all of his family, friends and colleagues who must now accept a life without him in it.
‘My thoughts and love are resolutely with them.’
‘Policing is a family and I join my colleagues across the country in mourning the senseless death of one of our own in the line of duty.’
Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: ‘The murder of a colleague on duty is utterly devastating news.
‘Officers across London are in shock and sick to their stomachs at the nature of his death.
‘All our thoughts – and that of all our members – are with his family, friends and close colleagues at this time. We and all members of the police family across the country are all utterly heartbroken at this news.’
He added: ‘Officers put themselves in danger every day to protect the public.
‘Sadly, on very rare occasions officers make the ultimate sacrifice whilst fulfilling their role.
‘When that happens we will ensure their bravery and sacrifice is never forgotten.
‘Colleagues involved in the incident will have our full support for as long as is needed.’
IOPC regional director Sal Naseem said: ‘Our deepest sympathies go out to all those affected by this terrible event.
‘We were notified by the MPS of the shooting incident at Croydon Custody Centre early this morning.
‘We understand a police officer has since sadly died and a man is in a critical condition in hospital.
‘A murder investigation by the force is under way.
‘Our investigators are at the scene and police post incident procedure to begin our independent enquiries.’
How more than 1,600 police officers have made the ultimate sacrifice while on duty in Britain
The police officer who has died after being shot in Croydon joins a long list of colleagues killed in the line of duty.
A National Police Memorial roll of honour in London lists all the officers who have been killed by criminal acts in the line of duty since 1680.
The roll records more than 1,600 officers who have died while performing vital tasks such as foiling terrorists, quelling rioters and marshalling protests.
Among them was Pc Andrew Harper, who died when he was caught in a tow rope and dragged along country lanes after trying to stop quad bike thieves in Berkshire in August 2019.
His three teenage killers were cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter after an Old Bailey trial.
Photos of police officers killed in the line of duty in the UK: (Top row left to right) Pc William Frederick Tyler, Sergeant Robert Bentley, Sergeant Charles Tucker, Pc Walter Charles Choat, Police sergeant Frederick George Hutchins, Inspector Philip Pawsey. (2nd row left to right) Pc Geoffrey Roger Fox, Temporary Detective Constable David Stanley Bertram Wombwell, Detective Sargent Christopher Tippet Head, Pc Yvonne Fletcher, Pc Keith Blakelock, Detective Constable Jim Morrison. (3rd row left to right) Detective Constable Stephen Oake, Pc Stephen Jones, Pc Alison Armitage, PC Patrick Dunne, PC Andrew James, Detective Constable Michael Swindells. (4th row left to right) Pc Richard Gray, Pc Sharon Beshenivsky, Pc David Rathband, Pc Fiona Bone, Pc Nicola Hughes, Pc Andrew Duncan. (5th row left to right) Pc Kirsty Nelis, Pc Tony Collins, Pc James Dixon, Pc David Phillips, Pc Keith Palmer, Pc Andrew Harper
The roll of honour also includes unarmed Pc Keith Palmer, who was stabbed in March 2017 by Khalid Masood during the Westminster Bridge terror attack.
Masood’s rampage, in which five people died, was ended when he was shot dead by a minister’s close protection officer.
Pc Palmer was posthumously awarded the George Medal.
Also listed are the three unarmed Metropolitan Police officers murdered in Shepherd’s Bush by Harry Roberts in 1966.
Detective Sergeant Christopher Head, 30, Detective Constable David Wombwell, 25, and Pc Geoffrey Fox, 41, were shot without warning while questioning three suspects in a van.
In more recent times, Pc Gary Toms, 37, was critically injured confronting suspects in Leyton, east London, on April 11 2009.
He died six days later when his life support machine was switched off, 25 years to the day after Pc Yvonne Fletcher was shot dead outside the Libyan embassy in London while controlling a crowd of demonstrators.
Her killer has never been brought to justice and film director Michael Winner founded the Police Memorial Trust as a result of her murder.
Pc Fiona Bone, 32, and Pc Nicola Hughes, 23, were murdered by Dale Cregan in Greater Manchester in September 2012.
Pc Ricky Gray was shot in the head by a gunman who then turned the weapon on himself in Shrewsbury in 2007, and Pc Sharon Beshenivsky was shot dead when she and a colleague tried to stop armed robbers in Bradford in November 2005.
Another name on the roll is Pc Keith Blakelock, a 40-year-old father of three who was set on by a mob and hacked to death with a machete during the Broadwater Farm riots in 1985.
Winston Silcott, along with two other men, was found guilty of his murder but in 1991 their convictions were overturned on appeal because of ‘unsafe’ police evidence.
Pc Ian Broadhurst, 34, of West Yorkshire Police, was murdered by David Bieber, 38, in Leeds on Boxing Day 2003.
Bieber also shot two of Pc Broadhurst’s colleagues.
The American bodybuilder, who was wanted by the FBI for ordering two killings in Florida, was subsequently jailed for life.
Detective Constable Michael Swindells, 44, died after he was knifed in the stomach as he and colleagues conducted a search in Birmingham in May 2004.
Detective Constable Stephen Oake died during a police raid on a flat in Crumpsall, Manchester, in January 2003.
Kamel Bourgass launched a frenzied knife attack on the Special Branch officer as he tried to escape.
The Algerian was sentenced to life for his murder.
Det Con Oake’s bravery not only saved the lives of several colleagues but potentially hundreds of people who Bourgass was plotting to kill with the poison ricin.
Pc Alison Armitage, 29, was run down by a stolen car in March 2001.
She died during an undercover operation in Hollinwood, near Oldham, Greater Manchester.
She was run over twice by a driver in a stolen vehicle in the car park of a derelict pub.
In October 1997, Pc Nina Mackay was stabbed to death in a raid in Stratford, east London, by paranoid schizophrenic Magdi Elgizouli.
Police officers also find themselves in danger when they are off duty.
Father-of-two Pc Ian Dibell, 41, was off work with a hand injury when he was killed near his home in Clacton in July 2012.
He had gone to help a member of the public who had been injured in a gun attack and was shot himself.