Honour guard at memorial for Met Police sergeant shot dead on duty

A service for Matt Ratana was held in central London with Priti Patel, Sadiq Khan and Dame Cressida Dick attending.

Isobel Frodsham
Monday 29 November 2021 13:51
Police officers from the Metropolitan Police during a memorial to remember and celebrate the life of Sergeant Matt Ratana (Victoria Jones/PA)
Police officers from the Metropolitan Police during a memorial to remember and celebrate the life of Sergeant Matt Ratana (Victoria Jones/PA)

Tributes have been paid at a memorial service for Matt Ratana, the Metropolitan Police sergeant shot dead at a south London custody centre.

Home Secretary Priti Patel Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick and London Mayor Sadiq Khan joined Sgt Ratana’s partner, Su Bushby, at the service in Westminster.

The 54-year-old New Zealand-born officer died after being shot at a custody suite in Croydon, south London, on September 25 2020.

Sergeant Matt Ratana (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Dame Cressida and Ms Patel exchanged a few words with Ms Bushby at the National Police Memorial near the Mall before joining a procession along Horse Guards Road and Birdcage Walk towards the Royal Military Chapel (the Guard’s Chapel) where the service was held.

Around 200 police officers lined the route dressed in full black ceremonial uniform, including helmets and white gloves.

The officers fell behind Ms Bushby and the other dignitaries as they walked, forming ranks.

When the procession arrived at the chapel, they greeted a group of trainee police puppies that were dubbed the Ratana litter in tribute to the sergeant.

The German shepherds were named by Ms Bushby when she and Dame Cressida visited the Met’s Dog Training Establishment earlier this year.

Sgt Ratana’s partner Su Bushby (centre right) meets a police dog that she named outside the chapel (Victoria Jones/PA)

The puppies are named Carter, Matiu, Jonah, Blu, Koru, Valentine and Whanau. The word whanau means family in the Maori language, in recognition of Sgt Ratana’s heritage, while Matiu was his full first name.

Ms Patel said “Good morning, how are you?” to the handlers before petting the dogs.

Ms Bushby was hugged outside the chapel by members of the clergy – Reverend David Crees, London District Chaplain, Reverend Prebendary Jonathan Osborne, the Met’s Senior Chaplain and the Archdeacon of Canterbury Jo-Kelly Moore – who led the memorial service.

The officers lining the route then gathered outside before heading into the Wellington Barracks.

Police officers march to the memorial service (Steve Parsons/PA)

The hour-long service included hymns, readings and tributes, including a Maori hymn sung by New Zealand cultural group Ngati Ranana.

The formal handing over of a hat and gloves to Ms Bushby also took place inside the chapel.

At the end of the service, a bugler played the Last Post, which then was followed by a minute’s silence.

After the event, the Home Secretary spent a few moments petting police horses before leaving with members of her security team.

The event was held in place of the full force funeral that could not go ahead due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The procession makes its way through Westminster leading to the chapel (Victoria Jones/PA)

Colleagues from many teams across the police force, including the dog unit, mounted branch, and Croydon borough, were present inside the chapel.

Dame Cressida described it as a “beautiful memorial service”, telling journalists after the event: “We were unable to have a full force funeral because of the Covid restrictions.

“So it was a great moment for so many colleagues to come together, together with Matt’s partner Su and her family and friends. A fantastic tribute, very moving indeed.”

She added: “I met Matt on a number of occasions, I didn’t know him as well as so many others but he had a huge presence, he was a big man, he always had a smile, he was very kind.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan meets Sgt Ratana’s partner Su Bushby (Victoria Jones/PA)

“He thought about everybody else all the time. I used to see him on our big public order and events.

“He was a totally reliable presence, hugely experienced, incredibly calm. Just a great, great police officer who inspired everybody he met, police and public.

“In his last role, in our detention area in the custody suite, people liked him, looked up to him, recognised his humanity. He was just a great guy, very well known across across London.”

Louis De Zoysa, 24, has been charged with Sgt Ratana’s murder.

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