Flowers left outside Croydon Custody Centre

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Flowers being laid outside Croydon Custody Centre where a police officer was shot by a man who was being detained in the early hours of Friday

A police officer has been shot dead at Croydon Custody Centre in south London.

The male officer was shot in the chest when a man, who was being detained, produced a weapon during a search. The suspect then turned the gun on himself.

The officer was treated at the scene overnight but died in hospital. A 23-year-old man is in a critical condition after being treated for gunshot wounds.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “We owe a huge debt to those who risk their own lives to keep us safe.”

In a post on social media he also said: “My deepest condolences go to the family, friends and colleagues of the police officer who was killed in Croydon last night.”

The suspect has been arrested on suspicion of murdering the officer, who is believed to have been a few weeks away from retirement.

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The incident has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct

No police firearms were discharged during the incident at about 02:15 BST at the Windmill Road centre, the Met Police said. The officer’s family are being supported by specialist officers.

Latest updates on investigation into officer’s killing

Asked about how someone could enter the building while armed, Leroy Logan, a former Met Police superintendent, said: “It depends if that person was arrested outside the police station and has been transported in a vehicle.

“There are circumstances where someone might turn up at the custody suite area itself and be led straight through.

“So not knowing all the details – how this person got into the secure area of the station or whether it’s outside the building or in the yard – we just need time to try and find out what has happened, because the details are very scant at the moment.”

At the scene: Thomas Mackintosh, BBC London

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Forensic workers were seen at the custody centre on Friday

It’s a cold and windy morning in south London and Met Police officers having been standing outside the custody suite doing something they dread – mourning one of their own.

Several bouquets of flowers have been placed outside the building in memory of the man who was shot.

Residents who live opposite have shared their shock and disbelief that such a tragic murder has happened so close to home.

Forensic teams have been spotted in the nearby yard gathering evidence, while other officers can be seen inside the suite carrying on with their duties.

Yogarajah Emmanuel, 43, who runs a shop opposite the custody suite, said he woke up at 02:30 BST to the sound of sirens.

“I looked out of my window and could see three ambulances,” said Mr Emmanuel.

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Yogarajah Emmanuel, who runs a shop opposite the custody suite, said he saw an ambulance speed away at 02:30 on Friday

“There was noise and all of a sudden one ambulance from inside the car park came out and sped off.

“This morning I heard it was a police officer and just felt so sad. They are all very good people and wave and say hello when they come to my shop.”

The Reverend Catherine Tucker, who was at the centre earlier, said: “The action taken against the police is really unacceptable but I also feel sorry for the perpetrator.

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Steve Reed, Labour MP for Croydon North, leaves flowers in tribute to the dead officer

“Sadly, I am not surprised there has been a shooting in Croydon.

“There are tensions between the police and young people particularly in relation to stop and search and the way the police relate to the community.”

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick described the loss of her colleague as “truly shocking”.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

Analysis

By Dominic Casciani, BBC Home Affairs correspondent

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.

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.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was “deeply shocked and saddened” that an officer had been shot and killed in the line of duty.

“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 added.

‘Sick to their stomachs’

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Met Police Federation, said: “The murder of a colleague on duty is utterly devastating news.

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Police officers leave flowers outside Croydon Custody Centre in south London

“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 incident has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which will lead an independent investigation.

Its investigators were at the scene on Friday.

The Met continues to investigate the officer’s murder.



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