Matt Ratana: Met chief pays tribute to cop with a ‘big heart’ who served kebabs for 8 hours in Hackney shop following 2011 riots

Matt Ratana. Picture: Met Police

Matt Ratana. Picture: Met Police - Credit: Met Police

The chief of the Metropolitan Police Service paid tribute to Sgt Matt Ratana’s “lovely nature and his big, generous, lion’s heart” at his funeral yesterday.

Matt worked on Hackney’s response and neighbourhoods teams for five years from 2010.

The 54-year-old was tragically killed in September, after being shot at a police station in Croydon, where he worked as a custody sergeant.

Paying tribute to him, Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said: “Matt was a fantastic, professional police officer. A brilliant sergeant and a leader. A supremely loyal colleague and friend. A true team player.

“He mentored and coached generations of officers, young and old, junior and senior.

“His work rate was phenomenal but it’s worth remembering that most of the people he arrested parted from him with a hand shake.

“He loved to be proactive ‘on the front foot’, as he would say.”

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She spoke about how much he loved his work in safer neighbourhoods in Hackney Central, south Norwood and Croydon.

“A chance to work closely with the public, to really solve some crime and antisocial behaviour problems, to develop a great team and to make a difference,” she said.

“He was well known, respected, admired and, it seems, loved by people in his local communities.

“He could see things from others’ perspectives and he was always focussed on what was best for the public.”

She described how Matt was in charge of a public order support unit in Hackney during the 2011 riots.

“These were tough times,” she said.

“Night after night they were given food by a grateful kebab shop.

“The owners kept refusing to take payment.

“Once calm was restored, Matt returned to the shop and insisted they took full payment, also presenting them with a specially engraved Met plaque.

“He then announced he would work there for the day and preceded to don a chef’s hat and apron and serve kebabs for eight hours in his own time.”

Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick described how Matt “wasn’t always orthodox in his methods”.

“He insisted, against all health and safety guidelines, on standing at the wide open door of a carrier on patrol in high crime areas,” she said.

“‘Engaging’ he would say, with the public, ready to pounce on the drug dealer or thief.

“He and his bronze commander (once) found themselves in a - technical term – a pickle. Isolated, facing an increasingly angry crowd during a difficult protest. Matt unceremoniously picked the commander up and placed her behind him, he then launched into a Haka, thereby both amazing and distracting the crowd and diffusing the situation sufficiently to allow a reasonably dignified hasty retreat.”

Matt, who leaves behind a son and partner, hailed from New Zealand and planned to spend his retirement coaching rugby.

“His legacy in policing will live on in all those people he has trained, encouraged, taught and in the inspiration he gives to police people now and for generations to come,” said Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick.

“Thank you Matt for all you have done and all you have given in nearly 30 years of service to London and the public.

“We miss you, we honour you, we won’t forget you.”