A POLICE officer has spoken of how the murder of a Black teenager and alleged police corruption inspired him to join the force in North Wales.

Detective constable Nick Ellis, 46, said he wanted to “help change attitudes for the better” but it did not come without struggle as he faced dozens of incidents of racist abuse while serving communities including Rhyl and Llandudno.

The son of Jamaican parents who immigrated to the UK in the 1950s, he became a police officer in 2008 following his role as a local journalist at the former Rhyl & Prestatyn Visitor.

However it was the tragic death of 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence in a racially-motivated south east London attack in the 1990s, and the scandalous police investigation that followed, which led him to put on the uniform.

“In the black community where I came from, people who spoke to the police were viewed as ‘grasses’ and it wasn’t the done thing to join up,” said Mr Ellis, in an interview with POLICE Magazine following Black History Month. “But when Stephen Lawrence was murdered, I realised he was exactly my age at the time and, given similar circumstances, it could have happened to me.

“It struck me that if we had more officers with my background in the police then the investigation may have been dealt with differently.

“There was a lot of animosity against police officers back then and I felt I wanted to do something to help change attitudes for the better.”

Mr Ellis attended the University of Wolverhampton and worked as a journalist before becoming a special and then regular officer for North Wales Police in response and prisoner interview teams. It was then that he was subjected to horrific incidents of racist abuse in his day-to-day job, which took a heavy emotional toll.

“I have been called all sorts by individuals and all kinds of racist terms,” he said. “Although I never, ever tolerated this, I came to expect, and anticipate, the abuse.

“The worst incident involved one individual who was suspected of arson. As soon as I walked into the room, he used the ‘N-word’ again and again. It must have happened 50 times, and it was shocking for me personally. I felt less than sub-human. I was also shaken and angry.”

Despite the challenges Mr Ellis has faced, he said he remains confident about his experience of policing as he was supported by his colleagues and would not wish for other Black or ethnic minority people to be discouraged from becoming an officer.

“Fortunately, my colleagues and supervisors really supported me, he said. “They were all fantastic and were a real source of strength.

“It was always my ambition to help change things for the better, even in my own small way. I would recommend [policing] to anybody with a BAME background.

“Anyhow, I’ve never classed myself as a BAME police officer. I am a police officer.”