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BLACK HISTORY MONTH


AND BLUE


following a stint on a local newspaper in Rhyl, he joined North Wales Police as a Special and then a Regular, in 2008. Stints as a PC in response teams around Llandudno and Rhyl and as part of a prisoner interview team brought home the reality and he was sometimes singled out by a small minority because of his ethnicity. “I have been called all sorts by


individuals and all kinds of racist terms. Although I never, ever tolerated this, I came to expect, and anticipate, the abuse,” said Nick. “The worst incident involved one individual who was suspected of arson. As soon as I walked into the room, he used the ‘N-word’ again and again. It must have happened 50 times, and it was shocking for me personally. I felt less than sub-human. I was also shaken and angry. Fortunately, my colleagues and supervisors really supported me. They were all fantastic and were a real source of strength.” Nick is especially complimentary


about his Force’s attitude towards racism and says he has never suffered from discrimination from colleagues. He is encouraged that there is a public conversation about racism currently and believes society has come a long way since the brutal murder of Stephen Lawrence, though he says there is more to do to educate those who still think racist behaviour is acceptable. He added: “It was always my ambition to help change things for the better, even in my own small way. I would recommend [policing] to anybody with a BAME background.


Anyhow, I’ve never classed myself as a BAME police officer. I am a police officer.”


Tense relationship June Durant joined the Metropolitan Police at 35, after a successful career in telesales and IT


recruitment and deciding she needed a change. “I never dreamt they’d


actually take a black woman over 30. The day I got the call to accept me into the Force I’d come back from my three-month prenatal scan. They told me I couldn’t do it if I was pregnant – I told them that I’d have my baby and join, and they couldn’t stop me. Ultimately, I ended up having the most arrests among both the probationers and the officers – with a baby!” The challenges didn’t


June Durant


stop when June moved from being a probationer to a full-time officer, and she has often felt a tension between her identity as a police officer and as a black woman: “On one hand, you have the black community and then policing, and the relationship between those two has always been acrimonious. The black community has historically been over-policed and, when you walk into the police as a black person, you have this in your mind. You’re aware that they don’t have the most positive perception of your community.


“I’ve had colleagues accuse me of being loud and aggressive - typical stereotypes of black people that get used against us. And I’ve also had other black people ask me why I’m doing this job given the historical relationship between the police and black people.” June is Hate Crime Co-ordinator


Nick Ellis


for Haringey and Enfield and enjoys the satisfaction that comes from working hard for victims of crime. “I remember putting in long hours for a woman who


had been racially abused and attacked and she’d given up all hope of justice. I managed to take the case to court with the help of my team, which was mostly Special Constables and probationers. Once the court case was over, she gave me a hug I’ll never ever forget – it was so tight and so genuine and expressed her thanks in a way words never could,” she said. The death of George Floyd in the


United States and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests have “shone a light” onto marginalised communities and their relationship with the police, added June. “Pretending that I don’t look


different dilutes my worth and the worth of the organisation. Black police officers, and black female police officers, are part of what makes policing great. I took a leap of faith for my community into an organisation that had a lot of assumptions about me. I know what kind of police officer I want to be, and I know what kind of officer I am.”


NOVEMBER 2020 | POLICE | 09


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