Black History Month: Avon and Somerset's first black female officer recalls facing discrimination

Adora Pomphrey was just 19 when she joined Avon and Somerset Police in 1980

The first black woman to serve as an officer with Avon and Somerset Police has recalled the racism and discrimination she faced from colleagues.

Adora Pomphrey made history when she joined the police in 1980 on her second attempt, becoming the force's fourth black officer but its first black female officer.

Aged just 19 at the time, Adora said she loved the job and her colleagues. She went on to serve with the police for 19 years, before eventually leaving when she became a mother in 1991.

She said her parents were "so proud" of her and were "bursting with pride" when she went to training school in Cwmbran.

But speaking to ITV News West Country for Black History Month, Adora recalled that her trailblazing path was not entirely smooth.

She said: "On the whole, the majority were lovely, but there were a certain few.

"I remember them now, I remember the conversations that would deliberately try to belittle me in front of other people or make racist comments.

"And they felt that it was okay to do so and I was so young, didn't stand up for myself and just accepted it."

Adora became the force's first black female police officer, but faced some discrimination from colleagues and from the community

Adora said that one police sergeant particularly stands out in her memory, for making discriminatory and racist remarks.

She served when female police officers were still required to wear skirts and Adora recalled that once when she injured her ankle playing netball, she had to wear a Tubigrip on her leg, which was visible through her tights.

Adora recalled that when this was the case she "walked into the office one day and he [the police sergeant] said 'Oh, at least part of you is white'. And you know, he felt that was okay to say."

She joined Avon and Somerset Police during the year of the St Paul's Riots, when there was distrust Bristol's ethnic minority communities and the force.

Adora was filmed on patrol in Bristol during the 1980s to mark her trailblazing role

In the 1980s, officers sometimes also alienated members of the public.

But despite the discrimination she faced, Adora said she loved her job and time with Avon and Somerset Police.

"It is an incredibly interesting job and you say you don't know what's going to happen when you go to work, and you really don't," she said.

Adora loved her job and said working with Avon and Somerset Police was "incredibly interesting"

Now 42 years on since Adora joined, she believes the force has significantly improved in its efforts to recruit and include more staff from a range of different backgrounds.

"I went in to headquarters probably about 18 months ago, for Black History Month, and there are lots of black and ethnic minority officers down there, it's great to see," she said.

"You know, totally different from my time, but forty years is a long time" Adora added.

Today, Avon and Somerset Police has not one, but 37 women officers from a minority ethnic background, which works at around at about 1%.

While the force has increased the number of non-white officers, current Chief Constable Sarah Crew would like to see more.