Darcus Howe wants Caribbean recruits in the Met

I find it hilarious that black people oppose recruiting police from the Caribbean

Concealed beneath all the fuss about economic migrants is a simple fact - that thousands of skilled workers have been attracted here by the government itself. Nurses come here from the Philippines, Africa and the Caribbean, teachers from the Caribbean, doctors from the Middle East, IT workers from India. Unskilled workers from all parts of the developing world come to the building and catering industries.

There is an insatiable greed for migrant workers: they keep the wages down. It has always been so. I remember when, about 40 years ago, London Transport set up recruiting offices in the Caribbean, and when Caribbean unskilled workers, newly arrived here, were asked to let their friends and families at home know that work was freely available in factories in the UK. The trek from the Punjab to factories in Birmingham was at the heart of the expanding motor industry.

Now the Metropolitan Police is looking overseas. The unrelenting shift work, the physical risks, the lack of affordable housing in London, the unpopularity of the police - all make it difficult for the Met to recruit from among people here. The natural place to look is the Caribbean, where almost all the police forces were set up by the British, and follow the model of the Metropolitan Police.

In the Caribbean itself, there is a drift away from the police services. They have fallen into such corruption that scores of police are taking early - very early - retirement. People cannot face working alongside gangs of officers who are involved in kidnapping the rich, managing young robbers, squeezing protection money out of drug lords. There is no area of criminal activity in which police officers do not take the lead. On my last visit to Trinidad, I met police officers, civil servants and teachers in a bar, and learnt of their absolute disgust at the lax and loose atmosphere in the workplace. This mood can help to supply the black police officers who are needed here.

I am for more black police, just as I am for more black cabinet ministers, more black judges, more blacks in every workplace. If more black police are visible in Brixton, then, even if they come from overseas, they will inspire blacks born here to join the Met. Yet the Black Police Association is against it.

I find it hilarious that black people in Britain should join an anti-immigration lobby. Open the floodgates and welcome our brothers and sisters from the Caribbean, I say.

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