"We were one of only three BAME families in Corby...the idea was to keep a low profile and blend in and not make a fuss"

Officer in charge of police stop and search has his own harrowing tales of hate and prejudice

By Kevin Nicholls
Tuesday, 13th October 2020, 2:51 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th October 2020, 8:24 am

One of Northamptonshire's BAME police officers has told a remarkable story of how hate crime has affected his life.

Superintendent Dennis Murray revealed how his experiences of prejudice persuaded him to join the Force and try to change things — even though his family threatened to disown him.

In a candid interview as part of Hate Crime Awareness Week, Supt Murray shared images of how:

■ One seven-year-old Asian boy was found painting himself white after being bullied at school.

■ A gas man refused to read a meter for fear he might get bombed.

■ Police arrested the brother of a woman who came to help after she had been beaten up.

And all three stories involved members of his own family.

Supt Dennis Murray remembers how his own family were victims of hate crimes. Photos Dave Jackson / Northamptonshire Police

Supt Murray grew up in Corby and has an Asian background — with "also a bit of Irish, English and some Burmese in there as well."

He said: "Back then we were one of only three BAME families in Corby so every day you felt different. The idea was to keep a low profile and blend in and not make a fuss.

"My first experience of hate crime goes back in the 1960s. It was a family who came to UK from India and one of children who was about seven years old was found under the stairs painting themselves white because they'd had a nervous breakdown and thought that would solve the issue.

"Police at that time said there was nothing they could do because it was just down to playground bullying among young children.

Supt Murray was thrown to the floor after being suspected of kidnapping his own son

"Then, in the 1990s a member of public answered their front door to a gas meter reader. It was was just after the London bombings and the meter reader said 'I'm not going to read your meter you **** because you might blow me up'.

"That person didn't report that crime and it only came to the attention of police at a later stage.

"There was also a lady called Dawn who was attacked by her neighbours who broke into her home. They beat her up and on the way out set fire to her gas meter.

"Dawn's brother and other members of her family turned up to help her but Police who arrived arrested them.

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"The common thing among all of those stories is that every single one of those people were members of my family.

"So you can imagine how difficult it was when I said I wanted to join the Police. My mother said she would disown me.

"But I was absolutely adamant and never regretted the decision. I've been able to change things from inside and that's why spent five years as hate crimes officer in Northamptonshire because I knew i was making a real impact.

"I was brought up with parents who were suspicious of the police. Fifty years later my brother is a security manager, my other brother a police officer, my nephew a prison officer — all of those things show how we've changed the way the family feel about the police."

■ Anyone who has been a victim of crime is encouraged to report it to the police on 101.

■ For people interested in joining Northamptonshire Police to make a real difference to the organisation and help tackle issues of hate crime and others, visit www.northants.police.uk/policeofficer