The first black officer? No, his tunic's double-breasted

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The Independent Online

An unidentified man who Scotland Yard believes could be the first black police officer in the Metropolitan force may not have been part of the constabulary after all.

An unidentified man who Scotland Yard believes could be the first black police officer in the Metropolitan force may not have been part of the constabulary after all.

The Metropolitan Police launched an appeal at the weekend for information about a man pictured in a photograph dated 3 September 1910. It was taken at Prickend Pond, Chislehurst, Kent, and shows the town celebrating its first fire engine.

But the man's jacket and hat do not seem to in keeping with uniforms worn by officers at the turn of the 20th century, according to the Met's library.

Maggie Bird, an information officer at the library's archives department, said: "What makes us think he is not a Metropolitan policeman is the tunic he is wearing which is double breasted, but officers didn't wear double breasted tunics. Also his helmet badge is not the right shape for that era."

Ms Bird said the picture, which had been sent to the Metropolitan Police Museum decades ago,had perplexed colleagues for around 20 years.

"It is in Chislehurst and the man in the picture is black but he could have been in a troop or a band. I just don't think he is a policeman,'' she said.

Chief Inspector Leroy Logan, chairman of the Black Police Association, said the force wanted to discover the man's identity and whether he was a member of the constabulary or not.

"A lot of people have been talking about it but no one can come up with a definite decision about whether he is a police officer,'' he said.

"Some have phoned who believe there was a community which settled in the area at the time with a legal background. One elderly woman is going through her family albums."

But a local historian believes there was no black community in the town at the time.

Official records state that Norwell Roberts became the Met's first black officer in 1966.

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