Britain's first black chief constable said yesterday that the appointment of an ethnic minority officer to the highest position in the police service was "long overdue".
Mike Fuller, 44, said he hoped his promotion to Chief Constable of Kent would set an "example to others" and proved that there was not a glass ceiling on the careers of black police officers.
Born in south London to Jamaican parents, Mr Fuller's appointment to head one of the country's most progressive forces is seen as proof that ethnic minority officers are advancing within the police.
When Mr Fuller joined the Metropolitan Police as a cadet in 1975, there were only five other black officers. Now there are more than 1,650.
He rose through the ranks at the Met to become a deputy assistant commissioner, the fourth highest rank, and at one stage headed Operation Trident - the special squad which investigates "black-on-black" shootings.
Commenting on being the first chief constable from an ethnic minority, he said: "In many ways it is long overdue, one of the issues being that there haven't been the officers coming up through the ranks. I have not sailed through the ranks, I have had to earn my promotions by hard work and delivering on whatever job I was given to do."
He added that he hoped it would send a message to other industries and businesses.
He said: "Black people should not be deterred from seeking promotion. There are organisations which will appoint people on merit and, hopefully, we will set a trend for the future. This will be an example to other organisations as well as the police." Asked about racial discrimination within the police, he replied: "Any difficulties I have experienced, I have clearly managed to overcome and they have not deterred me from seeking promotion or doing a good job."
Mr Fuller, who was founding chairman of the Black Police Association, continued: "I've always supported officers who have been unfortunate for one reason or another. The reason I got involved [in the BPA] at the start was that we were in a position where more officers were leaving than were joining and I was keen that we did something about that."
But he warned that he would not use his new job as head of one of the larger police forces in Britain as a "political platform". His appointment comes at a time of tension between leaders of the BPA and Scotland Yard over the force's failed prosecution of a BPA member for alleged corruption.
He said he "relished the opportunity" of his new job and intended to tackle "vandalism, graffiti and rowdyism that have a big impact on the quality of people's lives."
Mr Fuller, who is married with two children, will take up his £120,000-a-year post in January. He will be based at police headquarters in Maidstone.Reuse content