In this exclusive interview with Michael Fuller, hear what inspired his autobiographical book, ‘Kill the Black One First’, and his thoughts on policing strategies like stop and search.
Michael is a top racial equality speaker and the UK’s first Black Chief Constable, an achievement that transformed representation for minority communities.
Today, Michael continues to advocate for diversity and inclusion, so do not miss this powerful Q&A with this champion of equality about important values.
Do you believe such policing methods as stop and search successfully tackle crime or stereotype young Black people?
“Stop and search is one tactic, it’s a police tactic, amongst many other tactics. And clearly, stop and search are needed. If people are carrying vicious knives around the streets, it’s important that the police officers stop those people and take those knives off them.
“It is also important that the police officers use their powers fairly and properly and not disproportionately against one section of the community.
“My experience is that, when tackling gun crime in London, for example, we didn’t use stop and search and didn’t rely on that. We very much carry out intelligence-led operations.
“If you work closely with communities, you can actually be far more effective because generally in stop and search, the vast majority of people, some 80%, are totally innocent of any crime. And so, you’re inconveniencing them and often alienating the very people you need help from to tackle those crime problems.”
As the author of ‘Kill The Black One First’, what spurred you to publish the book?
“Well, the title of the book is based on something that was shouted at me when I was a frontline cop on the Brixton riots. The book also talks about my experience of being brought up in care.
“So, at the age of 18 and a half months old, right through to 16 years old, I was brought up in care by this wonderful lady. I talk about my early years and then how and why I ended up joining the police, as well as my career rising through the ranks to becoming a Chief Constable.
“It’s a very long, successful career. But I suppose the irony is that lots of people told me not to join the police. My friends told me not to join, my teachers told me not to join because they were all worried, but I joined in 1977. They were all worried about the racism I would experience, and they were concerned for my welfare, that I would have a hard time. And I did have a hard time.
“Despite all that and all the hurdles that were put in my way, I managed to come out on top!
“There was a group of students in London who I spoke to and told the story. And they queued up at the end of the talk and said, ‘you’ve got to write a book, you’ve got to write a book!’. So, I was convinced that I ought to write a book!”
What do you hope audiences take away from your speeches?
“Well, I hope audiences gain insight into what it’s like to be Black, to be a minority in a White society. I felt I’ve been successful, there’s lots of life lessons I can give and will give in my speeches.
“The most valuable thing and the most enjoyable thing is when people read my book because they listen to my speeches and never knew it was like that. I’m quite measured and balanced in what I say, but I tell it how it is.
“I tell the truth. My book was two years of factual research, which seemed quite strange. It’s autobiographical, but I wanted to make sure the facts are right, and nobody could say ‘you’ve exaggerated. I wanted to make sure it was factually correct, but all the experiences I’ve talked about, the things that genuinely happened to me, I overcame them.
“And it’s about telling people how I overcame them and what I learned from them. I never had a mentor who was the same color as me in a top job.
“So, the fact that people can look to me and see that I survived these experiences, I hope to be a role model to some people who are facing challenges, facing hurdles in their job. I hope they learn that it is about being self-reliant, it is about resilience.”
This exclusive interview with Michael Fuller was conducted by Chris Tompkins.