NEXT month marks the 40th anniversary of the first Asian woman joining the Metropolitan Police.

Karpal Kaur Sandhu served in Walthamstow and Leyton after joining the force on February 1 1971.

She paved the way for many Asians and women in the force, proving invaluable as an interpreter and was drafted in to deal with CID cases all over London where a female officer was needed.

She was born to a Sikh family in Zanzibar, east Africa, in 1943 and came to the UK in 1962, when she got a job as a nurse.

After joining the police, she served at Hornsey before moving to the Leyton division of the Met.

Her Chief Superintendent wrote in a report at the time that she was “proving invaluable with our dealings with the immigrant population and she is also assisting other divisions in this work and also in teaching police officers Asian dialects.”

He added that she was “energetic, intelligent and conscientious” and enjoyed playing hockey and driving.

But her career choice and Western attitude went against her husband's wishes and in 1971, he took their two children to live in India.

Mrs Sandhu left the force while she went over to get them back, while her husband stayed in India.

But on November 4 1973, he had caught up with her and confronted her outside their home in Chelmsford Road, Walthamstow, where he murdered her.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment at the Old Bailey in March that year.

Detective Sergeant Gurpal Virdi, who is compiling as much information about Mrs Sandhu as possible to mark the anniversary, said her decision to join the force had been a brave one.

“No doubt in Karpal's mind, there would have been anxiety about being subjected to both sexism and racism,” he added. “However, Karpal spoke with authority. She handled herself properly.

“When we think about the difficulties that a lot of Asians were having in that period anyway, she was well ahead of her time and you have to admire her.

“She only served for two years, but in that period, she did make a difference and was helping the community.”

Det Sgt Virdi is appealing to anyone who knew Mrs Sandhu to get in touch with him by emailing