Friday, October 27, 2006

Britain had a black cop in 1837

To anyone 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.

PC John Kent - "Black Kent" - joined the Carlisle constabulary in 1837, but was sacked seven years later for being drunk on duty, a common offence when clean water was in short supply.

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