A letter to… the police, about discrimination

When I was 5-years old and at primary school, my mum bought me my first bike… it was covered in police stickers along with the necessary ‘CHiPs’ highway patrol motorcycle helmet. When I was 15-years old, I wrote in my secondary school Record of Achievement what I wanted to be when I was older… a policeman. When I was 20-years old and at university in Manchester, I was still focused on what I wanted to do with my life and career after education… to be that police officer I dreamt of 15-years earlier.

In 2001, I was successful at my first application attempt in applying for The Office of Constable with the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) – 18-years after that dream. I had not only won the lottery, but hit the jackpot big time. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, and the start of my story as a public servant similar to what I had done in two cadet forces prior to the police from the age of ten.

When I swore an oath to The Queen that, I would serve her in my public office with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality, upholding fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all people – I meant it, every single word – without fear or favour. The work I did fighting crime and protecting people, wasn’t just a motto for me – it was real, each day I reported for duty never taking a single day’s sickness.

In 2008, after an intense application I transferred from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at GMP where I had worked as a detective dealing with all aspects of serious crime investigation in particular rapes to SO15 Counter Terrorism Command at the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) as an intelligence gatherer. On merit and with hard-work, I had gone from being born in Toxteth, Liverpool – at the time one of Britain’s most deprived and riot-ridden areas, to the élite Special Branch at Scotland Yard.

I had experienced racism and homophobia at GMP, initially at Bruche; the National Police Training Centre in Warrington (where the BBC documentary, The Secret Policeman was filmed) up until my transfer to the Met. But, hardly any of my colleagues knew about those who had acted discriminatory towards me because standing-up to this would have ended my career. So, I did what most do and kept quiet.

My experiences of late at the MPS with regards to discrimination, confirmed what does happen to you when you stand up to bullies within the Police Service. History and not just that of my own at GMP, shows that I would have been isolated if not subjected to further abuse. So, I did what was expected of me and kept my mouth shut and transferred quietly and with some form of dignity.

I held the honest belief that with London being the UK’s most diverse city, that things would be different at the MPS. A Force where I would be accepted for who and what I am, in a world capital. I couldn’t have been more wrong or further from the truth.

I guess this letter is to say that, when it comes to discrimination your actions and the lack of them can and do ruin lives.

I am not saying that all police officers or police staff are bad because they are not, but there are real problems in the service with regards to race and sexuality and my experiences in this modern-day are not isolated ones.

Those who know me will know that I believe in inclusiveness and not exclusiveness, but after I became unwell at the MPS I learned the hard way that I now had to be robust when it came to discrimination not just for me but others bullied because of something they cannot change.

It is wrong that in this 21st Century Policing, discrimination is still causing detriment and upset to those like me who are different.

Being diagnosed at a young age with depression after my experiences of discrimination, stopped me acquiescing – a harsh, wake-up call it was. In speaking-out about racism and homophobia in the police, I have paid the greatest price – the end of that dream, the one I had as a boy.

I do not expect those who lead the service to listen to someone like me, but I can only hope that you (that police officer or police staff, who goes to help someone in distress) might prevent what I have experienced happening to another person.  The only crime I am guilty of, is sticking to that oath I swore I would uphold over a decade ago.

Today, my resignation was accepted by the Metropolitan Police Service and I now look to draw a line under my experiences.

I will live with the fact that, not one person in the MPS has apologised to me for any of the treatment I endured. However, my brother told me a while back that a good apology has 3 parts… (1) I’m sorry!, (2) It was my fault and (3) How do I make it right?

But, a lot of people usually miss the 3rd part.

This has been a… looking to the future, ‘View from the Bottom’.

Take care, and hopefully see you on the bright side, Max x.

Live Healthy, Laugh Often & Love Yourself!

Published by My Mum. Copyright © Kevin Maxwell Film, Media & Performance 2012.