Black History Makers: Met PC on breaking barriers
- Credit: Met Police
PC Tia-Helena Brown joined the Met in 2017 and is now on the team investigating sexual offences in Camden and Islington.
As part of our Black History Makers series, she takes time from her busy schedule to talk about race and policing.
What does it mean to be Black and British in 2021?
“I always laugh because people ask me 'Are you happy in your job?' and I tell them 'I love it'.
“In my current and previous roles, I have been the only Black female but I haven’t let that change me. You can build upon that and say ‘This is who I am, this is my identity' and make a name for yourself. I found myself able to go into rooms and speak about my diversity and senior management would thank me for sharing that.
“For me, it is a privilege to be in the force and a privilege to be in meetings and tell people experiences of what it is like to be a Black person in the Met. They can only grow from our experiences and from what we tell them. If no one is sitting around those tables, it is never going to grow.
“People always say the top does not represent the community, but if we’re always sitting on the outside, how is the top ever going to represent us? I think it’s important to make sure that we are being seen, we are heard and our colour does not put us at a disadvantage. Let’s teach them, let’s show them our culture, and let’s learn. We can learn lessons on both sides.”
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What advice would you give to young Black people who want to pursue law enforcement?
“Be confident in who you are, be confident in your skin. Work it! Being confident sets you apart. A lot of us discount ourselves from the race before we even begin. It could be tough and you may be the only one, and you look at other people and might think ‘I shouldn’t be here’ but have the confidence to say ‘I’ve come this far, I deserve to be here’ and watch how doors open.
“What do you bring to the table that they don’t? Sometimes, that’s more than enough. You are your own person. No one else can be like you. You’re going to come with your own mindset and ideas. Once you understand your individuality, you are there?"
What was a turning point in your career?
“I was hosting a youth summit and I was speaking to late Sergeant Matiu Ratana about knife crime. It was that moment when I thought ‘Wow, I have to get into this institution’, not only to make a change but because I have a young son as well.
“Hearing the mothers cry because their young child had been stabbed and left on the cold floor made me fed up.
“What would I do if I got that phone call saying my son has been stabbed? I was really empathising with those mothers. If I can do anything in this career, it is going to be something to impact that. That was a turning point.
“It was so touching to hear those stories and know that I could be in a position to provide reassurance and say ‘Mum, Dad, I am on the streets and if I have an encounter with a young person, then I will make sure I speak life into them’.
“I had an encounter with a young boy and he had a knife and some cannabis on him, but he also had his CV on him. I sat him down in the van and took out his CV and started editing it.
"He said 'What are you doing, Ms?' and I told him: 'There’s life after this. This moment does not define you, there’s life after this.'"
This article is part of our series on Black History Makers. For more coverage, see the December 9 edition of the Hackney and Islington Gazettes.