A police officer has been shot and killed in a shock attack by a man being held at a custody center in south London, England. Police say the incident occurred at around 2AM last Friday while the man was being detained at the Croydon Custody Centre.
“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,” Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said.
After the incident, a 23-year-old man was detained at the scene of the shooting and was rushed to ambulance for treatment for a gunshot wound. The man is in critical condition and officers present for the shooting say return fire was not opened and instead the BBC believe that the assailant turned the gun on himself. A murder investigation is underway.
“My deepest condolences go to the family, friends and colleagues of the police officer who was killed in Croydon last night,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter. “We owe a huge debt to those who risk their own lives to keep us safe.”
Commissioner Cressida Dick described the incident as ‘extremely shocking’ and highlighted that the ongoing investigation is in its early stages and officers are still attempting to piece together the circumstances surrounding the shooting.
“My thoughts today are with his family, friends, and policing colleagues in London and across the country,” read a statement from UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, who said she was ‘shocked and saddened’ by the news.
“This is a sad day for our country and another terrible reminder of how our police officers put themselves in danger each and every day to keep the rest of us safe,” she said, offering her condolences to Dick and offering up whatever support she could provide.
No police officer in the UK lost their life in a shooting incident last year, according to the UK Police Roll of Honor Trust Website. Keith Palmer was the last Metropolitan Police officer to lose his life as a result of a violent attack after being stabbed and killed during a terror attack in London in 2017.
“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,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Twitter.
“My thoughts are also with the entire Metropolitan Police family, who I know will be deeply mourning their colleague at this extremely difficult time. I remain in close contact with the Commissioner to offer her and our Met officers and staff my support.”
Ken Marsh, chairman of the Met 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.
“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.”
The shock felt across the UK as they woke up to news of a police officer’s death is indicative of the relative safety that officers in the country face compared to other countries, such as the US. The incident, however, has sparked debate over whether more, or all, officers across the country, or at least in London, should carry Tasers on their persons at all times.
Some in the US will be shocked at the fact that officers in the UK are not always armed but attitudes are different in the UK and the data shows there is not really a need for it.
“This appalling incident in Croydon appears to be absolutely unique – an officer shot by a man who was already inside a police facility – and the shock felt today underlines how rare it is for police officers in the UK to lose their life in the line of duty,” Dominic Casciani, BBC News Home Affairs correspondent said.
“The Metropolitan Police officer shot dead in Croydon is the 17th from the force to have been killed by a firearm since the Second World War.
“But since the beginning of the 20th Century, only 73 police officers have been shot and killed by criminals in the UK, excluding all deaths in Northern Ireland.
“The majority of those deaths – more than 50 – have occurred since 1945.
“Police officers in other parts of the world are often puzzled why British constables are not routinely armed. But the fact is that there are very few criminal guns in circulation – and the culture of policing has never seen it as acceptable to be universally armed.
“However, Tasers are increasingly a common sight in the UK – and a massive survey of police officers recently found three-quarters would carry one of the less-than-lethal devices on the frontline, if given the choice.”