IT IS 50 YEARS since the first Asian woman joined the Metropolitan Police. PC Karpal Kaur Sandhu joined the force in 1971. The Met held a special – virtual – event to mark the occasion and remember this pioneering woman.
Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball opened the event, saying, “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.”
Other speakers included Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP (the UK’s first turbaned Sikh MP), Paramjit Kaur Matharu (CEO of the Sikh Assembly), and Sikh officers serving in the Met today.
Karpal was born in Zanzibar, East Africa, in 1943 and came to the UK in 1962. At first she worked as a nurse at Chase Farm Hospital. When she joined the Met, she served at Hornsey police station and then moved to Leyton. One report on her work described her as “energetic, intelligent and conscientious”.
Karpal died in 1973, after serving two years as a police officer – cutting short what had promised to be a shining career. She was murdered by her husband, who did not support her desire to have a career.
At the commemorative event, Romy Sandhu, Karpal Kaur 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.”
Karpal Kaur Sandhu was a pioneer who helped inspire other Asian women to have a career – in our outside the police force. Sadly, the work to stop men demeaning, injuring and killing women still goes on.