Nowadays it is not unusual to see members of the police force from a wide range of backgrounds – all proud to be British and protecting their fellow Brits. However, not so long ago, a mere forty-seven years ago in fact, Sislin Fay Allen became the first black policewoman in the Metropolitan police force.
Attitudes towards the police force from black and Asian communities have never been wholly positive, however, Sislin reveals it wasn’t the force or the white public who gave her a hard time – it was her own community.
“Many of us, as you well know, have some sort of perception of the police that isn’t all that good. I was asked how I could leave nursing and join the police force. It was like joining something degrading.”
“After a while the stares soon passed,” she adds. “My colleagues were very accepting – in Croydon really and truly. I didn’t have any problems there. I just did my work and after about a year I was posted to Scotland Yard.”
Sislin worked in the Yard’s Missing Persons Bureau for a while before she was transferred to Norbury police station.
In 1972 Sislin left the Metropolitan Police because of family commitments, returning to her husband’s birth country of Jamaica with their children. She joined the Jamaican police force and received a welcoming letter from the then Prime Minister, Michael Manley.
Sislin later returned to the UK with her family and settled in south London.