The black police officer who pounded the beat 150 years ago (UK)





For those with an interest in the history of multiculturalism, the name Norwell Roberts has an enduring resonance. He was, most people agree, the first black police officer in the UK after joining the Metropolitan Police in 1966.

But Mr Roberts, who had a 30-year career with the Met, rising to the rank of detective sergeant, and who also contributed to the seminal film about black Britain, The Windrush Years, found himself upstaged yesterday when it was revealed that the son of a Caribbean slave walked the beat more than a century before him.

In a story that demonstrates the deep roots of British multiculturalism, it transpires that the first black police officer was actually PC John Kent, who worked in Carlisle from 1837. He was the son of, Thomas Kent, who was brought to work on the estate of a Cumberland landowner returning from duty with the colonial civil service in the West Indies.


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