Updated: Oct 28
On the 16th March 1966 Mohamed Yusuf Daar (known as Joe) made history when he joined Coventry City Police, becoming the first Asian (and probably the first Muslim) officer in the country. Previously an inspector in the police in Tanganyika, he came to the UK when Tanganyika gained independence (becoming Tanzania) as he did not want to lose his British citizenship.
A new, more diverse future was coming for British policing when the decision was made to allow non-white applicants to apply to become police officers. The Chief Constable of Coventry City Police (Edward Pendleton) at the time had appeared on TV stating that there would soon be ‘coloured police officers on the streets.’ The next day Joe walked into Little Park Street Police Station and joined up.
He has recalled how he received letters from all over the world after his story featured in the press – including one from Mauritius which was addressed simply to PC Daar – England!
Joe felt that he could do a lot of good supporting other BME officers, but the other elements of the role were not for him so after his two year probationary period was up, he left the police.
Joe’s legacy does not stop there – with his brother Yunus also being inspired to join the police in Coventry in 1968, becoming the second Asian officer in Coventry. Yunus remained with the police for 14 years and stated that his ethnicity was never an issue – even when he married a white colleague, he states he only experienced gossip, never any negativity. One particular incident he recalled was when he was in the back of a police van with a group of colleagues when the conversation turned to racism, prejudice and the challenges police officers face. Yunus then said something and everyone suddenly went quiet. He was worried he had said the wrong thing but one of the other officers then apologised and said they kind of forgot that he was there; they were talking about racism and prejudice from a white perspective and hadn’t even considered that he was not ‘one of them’. For Yunus, this confirmed his believe that ethnicity and colour did not matter and that he was part of a team with his colleagues. He achieved promotion to the rank of inspector before he left to go and work with his brother Joe.
Both Daar brothers are proud of how their family have contributed to policing and are pleased whenever they see a senior black or Asian officer on the TV, which makes them see how far the service has progressed.