Black History Month: Northampton mum challenges view Police is not a force for good
“Police service should reflect the community it serves so it’s important that people of colour are a part of the organisation"
A pillar of the Northamptonshire black community admits people often feel sorry for her when they find out her three children work for the police.
Morcea Walker MBE, a 71-year-old black woman and a staunch advocate for education and training opened up about her experiences with the police during Black History Month.
Morcea’s son, Tim Walker, recently joined Northamptonshire Police as an officer.
Her daughter, Leonie-Jane Walker is a Crime and Prosecutions Manager and has worked for the Force for 13 years. Morcea’s older son is also a police officer outside the county.
Asked why people of colour often don’t see policing as a viable career, she said: “The interpretation by the media of the ills of the organisation including racism, the influence of the family, and the negative personal experiences with the police.
“The police service should reflect the community it serves so it’s important that people of colour are a part of the organisation.
"It is not solely the responsibility of the people of colour to take on the role of being the solution for issues in ‘their community’. They can however play their part in putting solutions together.
“If anyone is thinking of applying, I would advise them to treat this like any other job and investigate thoroughly, what the job entails. Speak to people who are doing the job. Talk to your family because they will be your strength.
"If they are in doubt get someone to speak to them in a space, they, the family, are comfortable with.
"Make your case a good one by being clear as to why you want to be part of an organisation that has many ups but there are also the downs that make big news."
Mrs Walker was born in Jamaica and moved to England when she was nine years old before settling in Northampton in 1973. She was a founder member of the Northampton West Indies Parents' Association and heavily involved with the Northants Black History Association.
She received an honorary degree from The University of Northampton in 2008 for her outstanding contribution to education and training in Northamptonshire, and as a leading member of the African Caribbean community.
Mrs Walker also resurrected the Northampton Carnival in 2005 and was recognised by the Queen for her services to the local community with an MBE in the 2012 New Year's Honours List.
Leonie-Jane echoed her mother’s views. She said: “I believe this is a legacy issue. People have ideas of what they believe the police to be, and it is fair to say the police don’t always get it right.
“I think it is important for the police service to be representative of the communities it protects and serves.
"Being representative will allow for a better understanding of the different cultures and communities we have in Northamptonshire which will increase public confidence and engagement — something that is needed after the last few years.”
Leonie-Jane works hard to bring offenders to justice in a staff role. She added: “My family are very proud of what I do. My friends tell me I am inspirational and someone to look up to.
"Some of them have known me since I was two years old and can see how far I have come.”
Son Tim, who was a professional singer, dancer and actor for 31 years, said: “I always felt it was important to give back to my community and then I was convinced by some officers that they believed I could do a good job if I joined.”
Talking about being in the job with his sister, he says: “Well, if my paperwork isn’t up to scratch it means I won’t hear the end of it in and out of work!
"But she has been very supportive of everything I have done, and it does make me super proud of what she has achieved and continues to achieve.”
Leonie-Jane said: “I am very proud to have my younger brother in the service with me. He has worked extremely hard to come this far and I know he is going to make a fantastic officer.
"However, you may want to ask me this again when he has completed his first file! Tim you are warned!”
■ Northamptonshire Police has a strong commitment to equality and diversity, striving to employ a workforce that reflects the diverse communities we serve. Visit northants.police.uk/careers for recruitment opportunities.