Norwell Roberts QPM
From History by the Yard
When university lab technician Norwell Roberts joined the Metropolitan Police in 1967 he became the centre of much publicity as Britain's first black police officer. Joining Peel House training school on the same day as Paul (later Lord) Condon, he served 30 years and in 1996 was honoured with the Queen's Police Medal for distinguished service.
His career started at Bow Street and then progressed to CID duties where he won a commendation for outstanding work in an operation against five contract killers in 1985, and gained success as the first black undercover officer. He also served at West End Central, Vine Street, Albany Street, Kentish Town, West Hampstead, Acton, Ealing and Wembley. Later, as a detective sergeant in Barnet, Norwell Roberts made a success in operations against conmen calling at people's doors.
His early experiences in the Force were marred by racist abuse and banter from some of his "colleagues". He later referred to this miserable experience as a test in life which he had passed with distinction because he had "the spunk and guts to endure the ordeal".
Sir Robert Mark (Commissioner from 1972 to 1977) praised his contribution towards better relations between white and black communities. When Norwell Roberts was awarded his Queen's Police Medal in 1996, Prince Charles told him "We need more people like you", and the officer was quoted as saying "He is right, because we do need more black police officers to make the Service more representative. I had something I wanted to prove to myself. I am still proving it. But I think I have earned people's respect. It has all been worth while"
In retirement, Norwell Roberts spends much of his time involved in charity work.