More black police ‘could make difference’ in force Senior black officer speaks out as he retires after 30 years
THE black community can “make a difference” by joining the police, one of the region’s most senior black officers has claimed as he retires.
Keith Fraser − the only black Superintendent currently with the force − has spoken of his pride at serving the public since his first day on patrol back in 1985.
In a varied career, Mr Fraser went from beat patrols in Barking, via New Scotland Yard to the West Midlands where he worked in child protection, crime investigation and specialist roles like tactical firearms commander.
He said: “The service really does need and value difference. Anyone who cares about their communities should look at joining the police.
“There is no point standing on the outside looking in when you could make a real difference. People who are not white shouldn’t be such a rarity in policing.”
Around nine per cent of West Midlands Police officers are from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities − the second highest representation in UK policing − and the force has introduced a programme aimed at attracting, developing and retaining BME staff. ‘Discovery Days’ at universities and schools, community centres and places of worship have been held to encourage applications from BME communities.
Mr Fraser added: “I have experienced some challenges based on the colour of my skin and some racist comments − but they have been very rare occasions.
“There is less racism in the police than some people want to believe.
“I feel sometimes where we get it wrong it’s as a result of unwitting actions or lack of knowledge.
“Most members of the public will not see most of what officers do to help them behind-the-scenes.”
Since joining West Midlands Police in 2005, Mr Fraser has worked in Birmingham, Stourbridge, Walsall and Wolverhampton and been the force’s lead for children and young people and a victims’ champion.
He also helped create a group aimed at preventing young people getting sucked into crime and gang activity and received several bravery commendations, including one for tackling a knifeman while he was off duty at a post office.
Mr Fraser added: “Being yourself is really important because it’s what you bring as an individual to policing that matters and is most effective. Rather than believing you should try be a clone of those around you. The public relate to you better and the police service definitely benefits from difference.
“I think I may have tried a little bit too hard initially to try and hide me as an individual − so be yourself would be my number one piece of advice.”
There is less racism in the police than some people want to believe Superintendent Keith Fraser
> One of the most senior black officers in West Midlands Police Force, Supt Keith Fraser, left, is retiring after 30 years