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Met remembers PC Sandhu, UK's first female Asian and Sikh officer

Today (1 February) marks 50 years since PC Karpal Kaur Sandhu joined the Metropolitan Police as the first female Asian officer in the UK, "a true pioneer and ahead of her time".
Published - 01/02/2021 By - Chloe Livadeas

The Met is holding a virtual event to remember her life and legacy and mark her “unique contribution to policing”.

She served for two years from 1971 to 1973 when she was killed by her husband who was against her joining the Met.

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 Met in 1971 at the age of 27, where she served at Hornsey police station before moving to Leyton. She would have been one of around 700 women officers in the Met at the time.

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.

In November 1973, PC Sandhu was murdered by her husband who did not agree with her becoming an officer. He had taken their two children to India but returned to the UK and confronted her outside her home in Walthamstow, East London. She tried to arrest him but he stabbed her in the neck. He was convicted of her murder in March 1974 and given a life sentence.

Today's event was 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, PC Sandhu’s daughter, said: “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: ”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.”

The force said since April 2020 6.5 per cent of their new officers were Asian. 

There were 36 Asian females amongst these recruits (1.8 per cent) and a total of 392 Asian female officers in the Met.

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