TRIBUTES have been paid to a police officer who died following a cycling accident at the Mountbatten Centre in Portsmouth.
PC Richard Phillips-Schofield, 33, was off-duty and taking part in a race at the velodrome at the Stamshaw centre when the crash happened on Sunday.
He was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham with severe head and chest injuries where he died earlier today.
Flags at the force’s Winchester headquarters and Netley have been lowered as mark of respect, and will remain lowered tomorrow.
PC Phillips-Schofield was a rider with the Winchester-based Peter Hansford Racing Team and the force said his main passion was cycling.
He won two gold medals and a silver medal in the World Police and Fire Games in Belfast last year.
He started out at the Light Hall School in Solihull, West Midlands and represented the force in cycling at the highest level, winning national and international awards.
He was taking part in the Omega Circuits at the Mountbatten close road circuit on Sunday when the accident happened.
Bob Howden, British Cycling president, said: ‘My thoughts and those of everyone at British Cycling are with Richard’s family and friends and with his team.
‘This is a tragedy which will sadden the whole cycle sport community in this country.’
Chief Constable Andy Marsh competed at the World Police and Fire Games with PC Phillips-Schofield.
Mr Marsh said: ‘I was proud to serve with Richard, and had the privilege of being one of the first of his colleagues to congratulate him on his gold medal when we competed together in Belfast last year.
‘His service in the police was no less impressive, a first class officer, team player and friend to so many. He was a credit to Hampshire Constabulary and policing in many ways.
‘Richard’s loss will have a huge impact on friends and colleagues across the service, not only in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, but across the UK.
‘Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this tragic time.’
PC Phillips-Schofield was a response officer serving at Bitterne, and was previously stationed at Portswood - both in Southampton.
He was unmarried and is survived by his parents.
Supt James Fulton, area commander for Southampton, said: ‘Richard was an exceptional officer. He worked in the city for all of his 10 years’ service, and was universally popular – a first class officer, thief taker, colleague and friend.
‘The whole force shares the pain of his family and friends, and at this time we remember Rich as a man who inspired so many and delivered so much.’
John Apter, chairman of Hampshire Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said: ‘The loss of PC Phillips-Schofield has come as a great shock.
‘He was a dedicated and popular officer who will be missed by us all.
‘Policing is a family and when you lose one of your own the effects are far-reaching.
‘My thoughts and prayers are with Rich’s family and friends at this sad time.’
British Cycling is now to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident that led to PC Phillips-Schofield’s tragic death.
A spokesman said: ‘Fortunately, this kind of incident is very rare. Our over-riding priority is always the safety of participants in our events and we will be conducting a thorough investigation.
‘For the moment, we are making our best efforts to support the race organisers, officials and Richard’s team.’