Friends of the

Metropolitan Police History

Officer 02

Location of interview:Middlesex

Officer's Gender:Male

Date joined Met Police:28 March 1967

Date left Met Police:28 March 1997

Rank of leaving:Detective Sergeant

Divisons served:C,S

Specialist service:CID. Undercover duty

Transcript of interview

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Track 2:  7'33”: Early life:  Born in Anguilla and lived there until 9 years of age. Came to UK 1956 with his mother. Experience as black child in Bromley, Kent. School experience. Employment as paper boy and in restaurant washing up. Left home at 14 years. Lived at Neasden lodging with church family. Worked at Westfield College 1962 until 1967 as laboratory technician. Slept on floor of college because unable to pay bus fare home. Ate scrap food at college. Recruitment to Metropolitan Police by answering advertisement in Daily Mirror.

Track  3:  4'50”: Read  newspaper  article  'London  Police  to  have  coloured  Policeman  soon'. Recruitment process and selection panel of 8 interviewers. Joined as first black police officer on same day as future Commissioner Lord Condon. Police Training at Metropolitan Police Training School, Hendon. Disciplined environment.  Tug of War. Boxing.

Track 4: 6'29”:  Posted to Bow Street 13 July 1967. Experience with colleagues and racism at Bow Street. Feeling of isolation. Section house accommodation at Beak Street section house. Covent Garden market. Life on beat. Change of surname. Duty outside Rhodesia House and South Africa House. Duty as black officer protecting South African Embassy.  Friendship with staff at South African Embassy at time of apartheid in South Africa.

Track 5:  8'0”: Experience with colleagues. Racist comments. Women Police Officers duty at Bow Street. Played cricket, basketball, boxing, tug of war. Attitude of police officers on sports field contrasted with police station. Times of parade for duty. Reading of parade book before going on duty. Times of refreshments allocated. Deviations from duty being noted in pocket book. Police boxes and requirement to ring in to police station.  Sergeants supervising Constables on patrol. Lack of social life off duty. Learning from Instruction Book. Primary objectives of efficient police.  Use of tact and good humour. Courtesy.

Track 6: 4'2”: Sports and boxing Lafone Cup. Played squash. Completion of probationary period. Achieved 83%, narrowly missing Honours (85%). Increased confidence after completing probation. Relief duties from 1967 to 1972. Posted to robbery squad 1972 working in plain clothes.

Track 7: 2:42”: Community in West End of London. Chinese community in Gerrard Street.  Working population commuting to work. Night life. Playing football and cricket with children in Peabody Buildings. Remembering children when they became adults.

Track 8: 3' 21”: Asked about joining CID by member of Flying Squad. Application to CID.  Became TDC.  Promotion on merits.  1975 – 1976 service as DC at West End Central. Promotion to uniform Sergeant at West Hampstead. Interchange scheme. Transfer to Detective Sergeant at West Hampstead. Respect from junior officers as Sergeant on relief.

Track 9: 1'59”: Duties of a CID officer assisting uniform officers on more complicated crime cases.  Demarcation between uniform and CID officers dealing with cases.

Track 10: 6'37”: Attendance at Sergeants Training Course and maintaining respect as supervisor: Dealing with offenders as a black officer:  Radios:  Use of police whistle:  Night duty blackening of helmet badge to avoid it becoming conspicuous in the dark. Respect for supervising officers and use of first name by junior officers: As DS worked on Crime Desk in 1976: As uniform Sergeant reporting Constable for being late for duty.

Track 11: 1'02”: Supervision of officers on relief, male and female.  Value  of more experienced older Constables.

Track 12:  2'14”: Undercover duty and training in police officers e.g. to purchase drugs or other commodities.  Work as driver for armed gang intending to rob a warehouse.

Track 13:  2'25”:  Commendation in a case of dowry killing in Acton after marriage of Westernised female failed.

Track 14:  4'45”: Community attitudes of black community towards black officer. Pride of older black people; some young black people regarded him as a traitor; unrealised ambition to have been used for recruitment in schools:  Handful of black officers in 1970;  Death of black police officer in police vehicle accident on duty and racist comment about incident.

Track 15: 4' 46” : Changes in uniform during his service 1967 until 1997. Ceremonial uniform. Changes in truncheon: introduction of protective equipment; stab vests; Women Police officers wearing trousers;  open-necked shirts;  detachable collars worn in 1967;  use of computers; value of old-fashioned police work; importance of foot patrol; knowledge of ground at Bow Street; patrolling singly: Compensation culture being misused:

Track 16: 6' 50” Pride in1996 award of Queen's Police Medal (QPM) for distinguished police service: Pre-retirement course: Charity work in retirement: Demands of undercover work lasting 1972 until 1995: Acts as Father Christmas: Race as an issue not treated seriously in 1960s. Importance of dealing with a problem when it has been acknowledged: Feelings as first black police officer: Pride in achieving rank of DS.

Track 17:  1'17”:  Introduction for second interview.

Track 18:  27' 30”:  Early life:  Life in Bromley in late 1950s in an area with no other black people: Passed 11+ examination but was not allowed to go to grammar school because he 'had to learn English ways': Assaulted at secondary modern school: Anguilla crisis occurred in 1968 whilst he was at Bow Street, and would have liked to have gone there on duty, but this did not happen. Corporal punishment at school: Relationship with school teachers: Good at English, biology, chemistry and Scripture: Family was religious: Punished for not attending church as a boy: Father was a doctor who died when officer was three years old, and he lived with his grandfather before he joined his mother in the UK. Mother was a companion to lady in Bromley who suffered criticism of neighbours for allowing black people to live in her house. Remembers sign saying 'No niggers, no Irish, no gypsies'. Family moved to Camden Town; attended school in Haverstock Hill, Chalk Farm; became prefect in school; earned 30 shillings for washing up in vegetarian restaurant; trusted with restaurant till; early ambition to become a doctor like his father; Violence of step father: Lack of male black role models: Employment as laboratory technician in Westfield College, University of London: newspaper article announcing forthcoming recruitment of black police officer in London: Good treatment received without experience of racism; Ate discarded sandwiches because of poverty: Slept on workshop floor to save bus fare  home; Difficulty in interpreting drawings and instructions. Experience of employment as laboratory technician.

Track 19:  31' 04”: Two applications to join Metropolitan Police, one in 1965 apparently being excluded  on  policy  grounds. Lack  of  avenues  for  redressing  injustice  by  discrimination. Discrimination not discussed unless within significant minority communities. No black icons. Interviewed as recruit in1967 at Peel House, Regency Street. Written test and medical followed by interview by large number of people. Expected to fail procedure because he was black.  Had family members in Police Service in West Indies. Saw newspaper article anticipating recruitment of first black officer. Reported to Peel House and attested as Constable. Conditions at recruit training at Peel Centre, Hendon. Pride in wearing uniform. Newspaper coverage as first black officer. Experience and teaching methods of 13 week training course relating to Instruction Book. Practical  incident  training. Methods  of  investigating  incidents,  mock  court  appearances, swimming, First Aid. Posting to Bow Street station at end of course. Passing Out Parade. Commandant Tommy Wall.  Experience at directing traffic on point duty.

Track 20: 30' 19”: Experience at Bow Street.  Reaction of colleagues and Reporting Sergeant. Hostility and racist behaviour from colleagues orchestrated by senior Constable on relief. Hierarchy of older officers on relief. Contrasting experience outside police station. Dealings with market porters. Dealings with Inspectors and Chief Inspector. Absence of Black Police Association.  Interviewed by DAC about his career and possible promotion.  Ambition to remain as operational junior officer rather than attending Bramshill. Experience talking  to  officers attending Bramshill training course. Enjoyment of relations with local community. Description of ground at Bow Street, including Strand, Northumberland Avenue, Covent Garden market, South African embassy, Rhodesia House, Charing Cross hospital, Savoy hotel, Charing Cross station. Pride at being a policeman in West End.

Track 21: 14' 17”: Description of ground at Bow Street, including Covent Garden. Tourists, sightseers  and  theatre  patrons. Law  Courts,  Bush  House,  London  School  of  Economics. Embankment. Experience at magistrates' court. Prostitutes, street traders, beggars, drug addicts. 3 card trick gamers. Fixed point duty at South Africa House and Rhodesia House. Experience of black officer guarding South Africa House during time of apartheid. Records of work checked by reporting sergeant.

Track 22:  15' 58”: Experience at policing demonstrations. Searching people when IRA members appeared at Bow Street court. Carried injured lady to Charing Cross hospital. Demonstrations outside Law Courts and at London School of Economics. Experience of policing demonstration at Grosvenor Square 1968, led by Tariq Ali. Mounted Branch involvement. Cordon duty protecting embassy. Public order training. Inspectors in charge of serials. Prisoners taken to police green coaches. Women Police duty confined to searching female prisoners. Organisation  of refreshments and feeding arrangements. Equipment confined to ordinary duty truncheon. Helmet chin straps worn down rather than tucked into helmet itself for comfort. Attitude of police officers towards demonstrators.

Track 23: 2'37”: Experience of black police officer dealing with Anti-Apartheid demonstration against Springbok rugby tour at Twickenham. Police helmets being taken by demonstrators.

Track 24: 3' 18”:  Joined CID in 1972 to staff office at West End Central police station dealing with robbery against Bank of America. Became TDC.  Asked to perform undercover  work in clubs in West End. Duty as undercover officer buying heroin for Flying Squad operation.


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