Britain’s First Black Policeman John Kent

Research carried out by former Cumbria Police Officer Ray Greenhow has identified that Britain’s first black police officer served his first period of duty between 1835 & 1837 in Maryport. That officer, John Kent, was the son of a freed slave from west Africa who worked for the Senhouse family in the Carlisle area in the 1770’s. It takes little to imagine the difficulties he must have faced at that time, in terms of tolerance & respect for racial diversity.


It had previously been thought that Britain’s first black police officer worked for the Metropolitan Police in London. Given the significance of Mr Greenhow’s finding, the Council commissioned a heritage plaque in recognition of Mr Kent, which will be displayed on Back Brow, Maryport, where the Jailhouse in use at the time of his service was sited.

An official unveiling ceremony for the plaque, conducted by Sue Hayman MP, will be held on 26 October at 11am. It will be attended by local dignitaries, as well as Tola Munro, President of the Black Police Association. Members of the public are welcome to attend.