The first black police officer from South Yorkshire will be telling his story on Channel 4’s new documentary tonight.
The show ‘Yorkshire Cop; Police, Racism and Me’ will feature Bill Thomas as he goes through his time with the force, revisiting 40 years of public service, directed by his son Alex Thomas.
During his time he served at momentous events like the Hillsborough disaster, the miners’ strike and suffered horrific racism which inspired him to set up th Black Police Association in South Yorkshire.
On the program he will be taken back to his old police training school, his old beat and to the scene of the Battle of Orgreave.
Bill will also try to connect his allies, the Black officers who helped him form Yorkshire’s first black police union and the people of Yorkshire, who he won over and now treat him like a local celebrity.
Alex Thomas, Bill’s son, set up a production company during lockdown last year to better represent Britain. He pitched the story of his father to Channel 4 which then commissioned the documentary.
He said it was hard for Bill facing racism. He said: “A lot of it is of that time. In the Eighties, it was a very different world. Language that was deemed acceptable then is no long tolerated now.
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“So you were meant to just put up with it really. What seems very horrific to us now, you were told to get on with it. And if you couldn’t get on with it then you were in the wrong job.
“He’s been at these big events that have shaped not just Yorkshire, the rest of the UK. How we visit stadiums, the death of unions, conservatism. He was at the frontline of all of them. It’s only now I’m older looking back on it – wow, he’s been on the frontline of history.”
The programme, produced by Milk First, will also explore how the Black Lives Matter upsurge raises questions about how racist society still is today.
‘Yorkshire Cop: Police, Racism and ME’ will air tonight on Channel 4 at 10pm
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