FOR Black History Month, The Sun is celebrating the achievements of black figures in British life.
Here Festus Akinbusoye, Britain’s first black police and crime commissioner, writes on being being repeatedly stopped and searched by police as a teenager, and the "pushback" some black officers endure.
I AM an immigrant to this country from Nigeria, who grew up on a council estate in East London.
My father had to work three cleaning jobs to provide for his family. If ever there was evidence that in Britain, brilliant things can happen, this has got to be it.
As a young man I was stopped and searched by the police six times, so I have experienced that side of policing first hand.
Having recently volunteered as a Special Constable in Bedfordshire, I know there are many, many good officers out there.
I now know that the stop and searches I experienced should have been done better by the officers involved.
One that sticks in my mind was when I was 19 in London. I was stopped and the officer searched me.
I asked him why he had stopped me and what I had done, and his response was to say, "just to make sure you are not one of London’s most wanted".
I now know that is unlawful grounds to stop someone.
I was stopped three times in London, once in Hertfordshire, once in Buckinghamshire and once in Bedfordshire.
Given the very public nature of these encounters, I know how it feels when you are simply told to go on your way.
The evidence shows that in eight out of ten cases, no further police action is required following a stop and search.
So, imagine how that 80 per cent feel when repeatedly stopped, which is why I often share my experiences with our officers.
I asked him why he had stopped me and what I had done, and his response was to say, 'just to make sure you are not one of London’s most wanted'
I believe we have the best police officers and now as Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, I see that every day.
We have some great black officers here and they are proud to represent Bedfordshire police.
It is regrettable that many would have faced pushback from other black people who see them as a sell-out, but they have toughed it out and have become great ambassadors for the force.
I see Black History Month as a way of reminding ourselves that black people have been here for a long, long time.
We didn’t just appear on the Windrush boat. We have been here contributing to the history of Britain for a long time, in effect adding the great to Britain.
It is also a reminder to black people in Britain that you belong here.
This is home.
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