MPS pays tribute to first female Asian and Sikh police officer to join force
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) will today (February 1) host a virtual event to mark the 50th anniversary of the day the first female Asian police officer in the UK – and perhaps in the world – joined the force.
The event will honour the unique contribution of Police Constable Karpal Kaur Sandhu who served with the MPS from 1971 until her death in November 1973. It will be opened by Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball and will feature contributions from Tanmanjeet Singh ‘Tan’ Dhesi MP, the UK’s first turbaned Sikh MP, Paramjit Kaur Matharu, CEO of the Sikh Assembly, and Sikh officers from across the Met.
Speaking about today’s commemoration event, Romy Sandhu, Karpal Kaur Sandhu’s daughter, has expressed her pride, saying: “I’m so proud of my mother, and her legacy as the UK’s first female police officer from an Asian and Sikh background. It’s wonderful that 50 years on she is remembered, and is an inspiration to generations of new female police officers joining the Met.”
Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball, said: “PC Karpal Kaur Sandhu was a true pioneer and ahead of her time. I have no doubt that her decision to join the Met Police in 1971 was a brave one and she would have faced considerable challenges along the way.
“As Britain’s and the Met’s first Asian female officer, Karpal paved the way for so many others who have gone into policing since 1971.
“Fifty years to the day after PC Sandhu joined the Met, I am pleased that we are able to remember her life, her career and the legacy she has left policing.”
Ravjeet Gupta, chair of the Metropolitan Police Sikh Association, said: “Today, together with representatives from the Met’s Sikh Association, Met police officers and staff and the wider Sikh community, we remember Karpal’s special contribution to policing, as the UK’s first female Asian and Sikh police officer.
”Karpal was an invaluable ambassador for the Met who helped break down barriers with London’s communities and will always be remembered for being a trailblazer of her time.”
PC Sandhu was born to a Sikh family in Zanzibar, east Africa, in 1943 and came to the UK in 1962, where she got a job as a nurse at Chase Farm Hospital.
PC Sandhu joined the MPS in 1971 at the age of 27, where she served at Hornsey police station before moving to Leyton.
At a time when there would have only been about 700 female officers in the MPS, PC Sandhu was both the first female Sikh and female Asian police officer in the UK.
Writing in a report at the time, her chief superintendent said that she was “proving invaluable with our dealings with the immigrant population and she is also assisting other divisions in this work and also in teaching police officers Asian dialects.”
He added that she was “energetic, intelligent and conscientious” and enjoyed playing hockey and driving.