Prince William visited Croydon Custody Care yesterday, to pay tribute to Sergeant Matt Ratana, who was killed whilst on duty last year.
Sergeant Ratana, who was a member of the Metropolitan Police Force for 29 years, was tragically shot and killed in the line of duty in September 2020. Ratana was about to search a suspect, who was handcuffed, when he was shot. No one has yet been charged with the shooting.
The Duke, who is Patron of The Metropolitan and City Police Orphans Fund, told Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick that he had ‘wanted to come here for a while’ to pay his respects, to which she replied that it would mean a lot to people.
The Metropolitan and City Police Orphans Fund was set up by the Metropolitan and City Police Officers to support their children should the officers die, retire on pension or become incapacitated. The Fund, which was set up in 1870, supports the children of both serving and former officers, assuming that the officers contributed to the Fund while they were serving officers.
William is the fourth Royal to hold this patronage, following in the footsteps of Queen Victoria, King Edward VII and King George V.
William placed a wreath of flowers on a bench dedicated to the Sergeant, who was originally from New Zealand, before he stood – head bowed – in a moment of reflection. Following the laying of the wreath, the Duke was taken for a private meeting with Sergeant Ratana’s partner, Su Busby, where he gave his condolences.
The Duke of Cambridge met with Ratana’s colleagues in front of cameras. He heard from them about their friend and fellow officer and told them that, from what he had been told by them, that ‘clearly he was the heart and soul of the police station’.
The Duke also asked questions about how the officers deal with the death of one of their own. When told that officers ‘would usually get drunk and make morbid jokes, to get through it,’ but have not been able to do so in this situation due to COVID-19.
“Let me know when you do,” he added, so that he could join them.
Today’s visit to the Croydon Custody Care Centre comes in the middle of Mental Health Awareness Week, and the Duke was very keen to find out how the Metropolitan Police helps their staff with their mental health while working such a high-pressure job.
The future King was told about Operation Hampshire, an initiative which helps officers which have been injured or assaulted whilst at work, and also the Mental Health Network, which is working within the Force to break down the stigma that surrounds mental health. The Network also directs staff to either internal or external support when they need it, one of those supports is a volunteer peer-support service nicknamed the ‘blue light champions’. The service has a trained team of over 1,200.
Another support for the officers is Dexter, who is the Metropolitan Police’s first wellbeing and support dog. Dexter’s job is to help officers deal with many stressful and also traumatic incidents that they witness while on duty.
Following the royal visit Dame Cressida said that she was ‘proud to welcome His Royal Highness to Croydon Custody Centre and to meet some of Matt’s colleagues and friends’.