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Met chief pays tribute to Sergeant Matt Ratana and issues more officers with search wands

20 November 2020, 08:39 | Updated: 20 November 2020, 10:17

By Megan White

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has paid an emotional tribute to Sgt Matt Ratana, the officer shot dead in a custody suite, and said changes have been made to prevent a similar event happening again.

Speaking during Call the Commissioner on LBC, the police chief said the Met will hold a full memorial service to honour the late officer after the pandemic, adding that he “epitomised the best of the Metropolitan Police.”

She also said the police have “certainly made some changes in custody suites,” including asking officers to wear body armour before speaking to suspects and arming more officers on the streets with wands to search suspects.

Sgt Ratana was fatally shot in Croydon custody suite in south London in the early hours of Friday, September 25.

He was taken to hospital but later died from a gunshot wound to the chest.

Sgt Ratana was fatally shot in Croydon custody suite in south London
Sgt Ratana was fatally shot in Croydon custody suite in south London. Picture: Metropolitan Police

A 23-year-old, who had been arrested earlier in the evening for a separate offence and was being detained at the centre in Windmill Lane, also suffered a gunshot injury and was taken to hospital in critical condition.

He has been arrested on suspicion of the officer’s murder.

Asked about Sgt Ratana’s death, Dame Cressida said: “Matt Ratana was genuinely just a fantastic police officer and a wonderful man.

“It’s a horrible loss for the whole of the Met but it’s touched people across the world.

“Our hearts are still with his family, his partner here and his extended family across in New Zealand and Australia.

“The funeral was as good as a funeral could have been in the Covid circumstances.

The coffin and floral tributes in the church before the funeral service of police officer Sergeant Matt Ratana
The coffin and floral tributes in the church before the funeral service of police officer Sergeant Matt Ratana. Picture: PA

“The Met and his partner would have loved to have had a great big service funeral and people would have come in their thousands, we could have filled a cathedral, we would have had the public out on the streets.

“But I know that his family were very pleased we were able to livestream it to colleagues and then obviously on social media across the world.”

She added: “There’s definitely a memorial service, there will be.

“This was a wonderful, wonderful man, lost in a senseless killing, and he epitomised the best of the Metropolitan Police.”

Asked if lessons had been learnt from the incident, Dame Cressida said: “We’ve certainly made some changes in custody suites.

“We’re working really closely with the Independent Office of Police Conduct, and of course the Health and Safety Executive are involved and we have a homicide investigation, so absolutely we’ve made some changes straight away.”

She added: “The two changes we have made are first of all, that sergeants who are the custody detention officers in charge, that when they go to speak to somebody in the first instance, they’ll always be wearing their body armour even though they’re indoors.

“The second thing that we have done, which hopefully keeps the custody area safer and everybody safer is that out on the street, more and more of our officers will now be using as a supplement to the search or whatever has happened at the point of arrest, they can use wands.

“This is just an extra protection, never ever to substitute for the search, but it may just find a weapon or a knife.

“We have been able to issue a lot in a short period of time and we’ve got a whole lot more on order.

“We were doing that with the teams who were dealing with the most violent people already, we’re now doing it across the Met.”