Fay Allen went from working as a nurse in London to becoming a historical figure after she was selected as the United Kingdom’s first Black policewoman. Ms. Allen’s achievement was met with resistance in her adopted nation, but she still served as an inspiration for many.
Born Sislin Fay Allen in 1939, the Jamaican native moved to London and worked at the Queen’s Hospital in the Croydon section. In 1968, she saw a classified ad in the paper recruiting men for the Metropolitan Police Service. Despite this, Allen applied for the job in the search for a new career and was surprisingly selected.
Allen’s first day on the job was met with fanfare as reporters wanted to interview the history-making constable. For Allen, the distinction of being the first Black policewoman in her country served more as a burden than a blessing.
Her superiors received plenty of mail regarding Allen’s post, much of which was positive. However, some hate mail trickled through but was withheld from her view as to not discourage her. Allen worked at the legendary Scotland Yard as part of its Missing Persons Bureau before being stationed at Norbury.
Norwell Roberts, once considered by many to be the U.K.’s first Black police officer, was hired just a year before Allen. Roberts went on to have one of the most highly-decorated careers with The Met.
In an interview, the mother of two found all of the fuss a bit bothersome as she simply wanted a different job than nursing. Her hiring came as a shock to her family and community, who actually frowned upon Allen leaving the nursing job to become a constable.
In 1972, Allen left The Met to return home to her native Jamaica with her family. While in the island nation, Allen joined the Jamaica Constabulary Force.