Pictured: Rugby-loving London sergeant shot dead INSIDE police station

Pictured: London police sergeant nearing retirement who was shot dead at point blank range INSIDE police station when firearms suspect, 23, IN HANDCUFFS opened fire then turned weapon on himself – but survives – after gun was missed during arrest

  • Matiu Ratana, 54, was shot at 2.15am today by a man at Croydon custody centre in Croydon, South London
  • Officers and paramedics treated the officer at the scene of shooting before he was taken to hospital and died
  • Incident marks first time  police officer has been shot and killed on duty since two officers in September 2012
  • Sergeant Ratana is the tenth police officer to have been killed in the line of duty in the UK in the past decade 

The Metropolitan Police custody sergeant shot dead at a London police station was today identified as a rugby-loving officer from New Zealand who was nearing retirement from the force.

Sergeant Matiu Ratana, 54, was allegedly shot five times in the chest at point-blank range by a 23-year-old man whose ‘handcuffs remained in place’ while he was detained for possession of ammunition at Croydon custody centre in South London.

The man then turned the gun on himself but is still alive in hospital in a critical condition following the shooting at about 2.15am today. The officer was treated at the scene before he was taken to hospital where he later died.

Sergeant Ratana, who was a coach at East Grinstead Rugby Football Club, 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?’ 

One friend wrote on Facebook: ‘Ratatatatat. Matt, a legend. You gave me an opportunity and direction that helped me get to where I am now. I’ll be forever grateful and will carry you with me throughout my career. RIP my friend.’ 

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he visited the family today 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’.

Today’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.

Sergeant Matiu Ratana, who was 54, was allegedly shot five times in the chest at point-blank range during the incident today


Sergeant Ratana, who was a coach at East Grinstead Rugby Football Club, came to Britain from New Zealand

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

A forensics officer is pictured this morning at Croydon custody centre in South London following the incident earlier today

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 today) when the incident took place


Police forensics officers at Croydon custody centre in South London this morning following the death of Sergeant Ratana

A man broke down in tears as he laid flowers on the pavement outside the custody centre this afternoon. A uniformed officer watched on

Police officers bow their heads outside Croydon custody centre in South London following the death of a police officer today

Police bring flowers to Croydon custody centre today where a police officer was shot by a man who was being held in custody

A woman brings flowers to Croydon custody centre in South London this afternoon following the shooting earlier today

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.

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, but it is also possible that he got hold of it at some point after being arrested. 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.

What type of firearm did he manage to smuggle inside the station?

How the suspect got the gun into the custody centre will depend on the calibre and size of the weapon. If it was a small piece and was hidden on him, investigators’ attentions will then focus on how thoroughly he was searched.

Was he searched on arrest – and was he searched when he got to the station?

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?

Did the custody officer authorise a strip search?

The search would have been expected to take place outside the police station. Once inside the police station, you would then expect a more thorough search, and the custody officer may authorise a strip search which could find weapons hidden around a person’s body, secreted away from their clothes and pockets.

Was the suspect handcuffed when he was arrested – if not, why not?

It is not clear whether the suspect was put in handcuffs when he was arrested. Police can handcuff people when arresting them and use ‘reasonable force’, but there is no rule that they have to be handcuffed.

Was he searched while he was taken to the station?

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.

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. 

The gunman was arrested by a special constable on patrol with a normal officer after he was seen behaving strangely. They searched the suspect and allegedly found ammunition on him, before handcuffing him and driving him to the police station. 

The man is understood to have been put into a holding cell, and Sergeant Ratana who died then opened the door to get his personal details and go through the station’s Covid-19 procedures. It is believed that the suspect then produced the gun and shot him. 

Commissioner Cressida Dick added: ‘Early indications are that the suspect shot himself. This has not yet been established as fact. The man remains in a critical condition in hospital.’ 

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.

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 I was loved by them and he was loved by members of the community.’

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.

Friend Amanda Tessier, a community nurse, whose sister Sue 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.

‘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 Hove Rugby and also East Grinstead. ‘They’ll be devastated by this. He coached the juniors as well,’ she said, breaking down in tears. ‘It’s just awful.’

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.’

Outside the Croydon Custody Centre this afternoon, police officers bowed their heads to remember their colleague and laid flower tributes

Unformed officers laid bouquets of flowers outside the Croydon custody centre where a police officer was killed today

A tribute was left outside the custody centre where the officer was shot dead. The card said he was the ‘greatest sergeant’

Commissioner Cressida Dick said: ‘This is a truly shocking incident in which one of our colleagues has lost his life in the most tragic circumstances. My heart goes out to his family, direct colleagues and friends.

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. 

‘We are currently supporting his family and also have a dedicated team providing support to the officers and those in the custody centre who witnessed the shooting.’

‘When a colleague dies in the line of duty the shockwaves and sadness reverberates throughout the Met and our communities. 

‘Policing is a family, within London and nationally, and we will all deeply mourn our colleague.

‘We are in the early stages of the investigation and are still working to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident and we will provide further updates when we have them.’

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 want his surname used, 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 today, 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 work 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.’

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 bring flowers to Croydon custody centre in South London today after a police officer was shot by a man

A police officer lays flowers outside Croydon custody centre in South London this afternoon following the incident earlier today

Police officers outside Croydon custody centre in South London this afternoon as they mourn their colleague’s death

A man carries a bag of evidence next to Croydon custody centre in South London this afternoon

Floral tributes outside Croydon custody centre in South London today following the death of a police officer

Police officers stand outside Croydon custody centre in South London this afternoon following the shooting

Police lined up while socially distanced outside the Windmill Road Custody Suite in Croydon today following the incident this morning

Police officers held a minute-long silence in memory of the officer following the shooting earlier today at a custody suite in Croydon

Police officers and community leaders hold a minute’s silence outside Windmill Road Custody Suite to mark the death of their colleague

Police at the scene of the shooting at the Croydon custody suite in South London this morning

Police forensics at Croydon custody centre in South London this morning

Investigations are being carried out at Croydon custody centre today following the shooting

A forensics officer works at Croydon custody centre this morning after the incident overnight

People carry flowers to Croydon custody centre in South London today after a police officer was shot by a man

Officers lay floral tributes outside Croydon custody centre today following the death of a police officer

Police officers leave flowers outside Croydon custody centre in south London today following the shooting

‘All our thoughts are with the officer’s family, friends and colleagues across the Metropolitan Police force, but also policing family across the country.

Home Secretary Priti Patel (pictured in London on Tuesday) said she was ‘deeply shocked and saddened’ by the shooting

‘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.’

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 woman arrives to lay flowers outside Croydon custody centre in South London this afternoon

A woman lays flowers outside Croydon custody centre in South London this afternoon

A police officer lays flowers outside Croydon custody centre in South London this morning


A police officer stands by the scene of the shooting at the Croydon custody suite in South London this morning

A police officer lays flowers outside Croydon custody centre in South London this morning

Forensic officers at Croydon custody centre in South London today following the shooting

Police tape cordon inside 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 officers are seen at Croydon custody centre in South London this morning

Police are investigating the incident after a custody sergeant was shot in the early hours

Police officers stood at the scene at Croydon custody centre in South London this morning

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. 

‘The first of our medics were at the scene in under four minutes. We treated two people at the scene and took them both by road to a major trauma centre.’ 

A police officer is pictured at the scene this morning following the shooting overnight

A police van is pictured outside Croydon custody centre in South London this morning

Crime scene investigators are working at the custody centre in South London this morning

Officers and paramedics treated the unnamed officer at the custody centre (pictured today)

Two officers walk through the scene at Croydon custody centre in South London this morning

An aerial view of Croydon custody centre in South London this morning following the shooting

Forensic specialists are seen at the custody centre after the officer was shot dead this morning

Police officers at the scene as a forensics specialist walks past in South London this morning

Flowers are laid down outside the custody centre this afternoon following the shooting

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.

Maria Tripi, who lives opposite the police station, said she was woken by the noise of ambulances. The 66-year-old said: ‘I was woken up at around 2.20am.

‘I saw the blue lights in my room so I looked out and saw three ambulances, one was inside and two were outside.

‘Then there was a lot more police vehicles and they were all rushing very quickly along the road. Then later I saw the forensic officers wearing all white.

‘Then when I saw the news in the morning I couldn’t believe it. It’s a police station, I never thought that could happen there.

‘I was so surprised because when I heard I was worried it could be terrorism or something like that because it’s so terrible. 

‘It’s very scary because there was so many police. I was scared for the police inside. I live near a police station, normally I feel safe here.

‘I think the police need more support from the Government for more help and equipment because crime is so terrible in Croydon, its very bad.’

Policing minister Kit Malthouse updated MPs about the officer’s death, adding: ‘May justice follow this heinous crime.’

Raising a point of order in the House of Commons, Mr Malthouse said: ‘We ask our police officers to do an extraordinary job.

‘The fact that one of them has fallen in the line of performing that duty is a tragedy for the entire nation.

‘I know the entire House will offer their condolences to his family and friends and colleagues. May he rest in peace and may justice follow this heinous crime.’

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle added: ‘It is shocking news. This should never happen to the people that protect us and make us safe. 

‘All our thoughts and prayers go with the family and friends and the police community.’

Croydon Central MP and shadow policing minister Sarah Jones told Times Radio: ‘It’s absolutely devastating.

‘I just feel so sorry for the family of the officer who has been shot dead and so sorry for the community of our police in Croydon who are obviously a family of people who work together every day, who put themselves out in danger every day, drive into danger and are a really close family and they are going to be absolutely devastated and I’m just so sorry.

‘Of course there are going to be questions asked about what happened… and we’ll get to the bottom of what happened and why. 

‘But today, it’s an absolute tragedy and not something you ever think is going to happen.’

Reverend Catherine Tucker, of Holy Saviour Church whose parish covers the custody centre, said: ‘I am sad for both the death of the police officer but also the perpetrator. 

A police car is pictured outside Croydon custody centre in South London this morning

A police van is pictured outside Croydon custody centre in South London this morning 

Forensics officers at the scene at Croydon custody centre in South London this morning

Officers leave heartfelt poem pinned to bouquet

Just before 2pm a dozen uniformed police officers walked silently to the custody centre, laid two large bouquets and bowed their heads as they stood side-by-side in tribute to their colleague.

They left a minute later without saying a word.

A poem pinned to one of the bouquets read:

Time to come home dear brother

Your tour of duty through

You have given as much as anyone could be expected to do

Just a few steps further the smoke will start to clear

Others here will guide you

You have no need of fear

You have not failed your brothers

You clearly gave it all

And through your selfless actions

Others will hear the call

Secure your place of honour

Among those who have gone before

And know you will be remembered

For now and evermore

‘We are conscious of tensions between young people and police in this area over the past few years and we are actually running a project to try and improve those relationships. 

‘Unfortunately I am not really surprised that something like this has happened in Croydon.

‘This is a highly and richly diverse area with very strong community links but it’s one of the most highly deprived areas in terms of poverty rate in the whole country.’

Admin assistant Wilhelmina Jew, 45, who lives nearby, said: ‘I only saw all the activity outside the police station so when I saw it on the news, I realised that must be it. 

‘It is completely unacceptable for anyone to kill a police officer because they are they are the last line of support for the community.

‘Sometimes I really wish we lived in a country village because sadly this sort of thing happens all too often.’

The shadow justice secretary, Labour’s David Lammy, tweeted: ‘Appalling news that a police officer has been shot dead in Croydon.

‘It is tragic when an officer loses their life in the line of duty while doing their job keeping the public safe. My thoughts and condolences are with the officer’s family, colleagues and friends.’

Yvette Cooper, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, said: ‘It is truly awful news that a brave police officer has been killed.

‘My thoughts and deep sympathies go out to the family, friends and colleagues of this brave officer – and also to everyone in policing who will be feeling this loss deeply.

‘Every day our police put themselves in harm’s way to keep us all safe – it is devastating for this to happen to someone working to protect others’.

National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Martin Hewitt said: ‘This is a truly terrible incident and my thoughts and condolences go out to the officer, his family, friends and colleagues at what is a deeply distressing time.

‘It is another tragic reminder of the risks police officers take on a daily basis to keep the public safe. 

A poem pinned to one of the bouquets left at the scene by police officers following the incident in South London

The sergeant was shot at 2.15am this morning at Croydon custody centre (pictured today)

Flowers left outside Croydon custody centre in South London today following the shooting

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.’

Croydon Police had tweeted last night that they had an ‘uplift in officers helping you keep safe tonight regarding Covid compliance rules’.

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.

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