Britain to get its first black chief constable

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Mike Fuller, a deputy assistant commissioner with the Metropolitan Police, has been appointed as Britain's first black chief constable.

Mr Fuller will officially be presented as the new head of Kent police tomorrow.

He said yesterday: "I am delighted with my appointment, and I am looking forward to the challenge of being the chief constable of Kent ... I welcome the opportunity to work with the men and women of Kent police, which is one of the most effective and proficient forces in the country."

His promotion comes just two weeks after the Met was accused of a "witch-hunt" against ethnic minority recruits by Superintendent Ali Dizaei, who was cleared of corruption charges after a four-year Met investigation. Last week he urged black and Asians to boycott a recruitment drive by the force.

This prompted David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, to make a special plea to officers from ethnic minorities not to abandon policing. Last week at the National Black Police Association conference, he emphasised the need for a representative police force.

The Metropolitan Black Police Association, which backed Mr Dizaei, welcomed Mr Fuller's appointment.

Chief Inspector Leroy Logan, chairman of the BPA, said he hoped that other forces would follow the example of Kent police.

"Mike Fuller has tirelessly worked at being the best cop he can be, and I would commend the leadership of the Kent Police Authority for taking this brave step in appointing a black chief constable," said Mr Logan.

"This is a model I would like to see repeated around the country because there are talented black officers out there. I hope this will encourage other black officers."

Mr Logan said the appointment was even more impressive because black officers were "over-scrutinised" and five times more likely to be disciplined.

As a founder member of the BPA, Mr Fuller, 44, has been instrumental in improving the treatment of black and ethnic-minority officers.

He began his career with the police service as a Met Police cadet in 1975 before joining Special Branch as a uniformed officer. When he joined the Met there were only five other black officers in the force. There are now more than 1,000.

He later became a detective chief inspector and was credited with an innovative scheme to combat burglary, seen as a forerunner of the much-publicised Operation Bumblebee.

He joined the Met's race and violent crime task force in 1998. Two years ago, he was promoted to deputy assistant commissioner and made head of Operation Trident, the special squad set up to target "black-on-black" gun violence in London.

At the time of his appointment to Trident, Mr Fuller said in an interview that there were still "significant challenges" to face in tackling difficult race issues within the police and in London.

He will take over his £120,000-a-year post from Bob Ayling, the current chief constable of Kent, on 1 January 2004.