A NORTH Yorkshire Police chief has revealed how he "broke through a glass ceiling" to achieve success in life.

Deputy Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police, Phil Cain, said he believed he was the first black and minority ethnic person to hold the high-ranking position.

And he said he had got there thanks to people who had helped him at each stage of his life - "a real example of positive action in action, so to speak".

He said: "I am half Chinese, and for some I don’t count as being black enough to represent them, and for others I have only got where I am because of my Chinese heritage and not because I was the best person for the job. Although these views are from a minority, they still exist and are why I sometimes feel like I fall between the cracks.

"I am proud of my background now, but that was not always the case."

Mr Cain said that until he was three or four he only spoke Cantonese, and tried to hide the fact that his mother was Chinese - not even wanting to eat Chinese food.

He said this was because he received hurtful comments because of his heritage.

Mr Cain added: "At the same time I loved my childhood and still have many great friends from those days, and thankfully the negative experiences were in the minority compared to the fond memories I have of growing up in North Yorkshire.

"When I joined North Yorkshire Police I didn’t declare my true ethnicity because I thought it might affect my application. In fact, at that time my ethnicity would have been recorded as mixed white/other. So even on an official form, I would still have fallen between the cracks. Now I realise how wrong I was, but I am sure there will be those out there who will understand why I did this.

"I come from a single parent family, with a mother who doesn’t read or write English. I was born in Germany, lived in Malaysia and came to live in the UK when I was around four years old. After my father left us, and until my sister was older, I was the only person in my family who could read or write English.

"We lived in local authority housing in Colburn near Catterick. I didn’t know it then, but I would have been described as coming from a challenging and under-privileged background. Apparently, according to some, 'kids from my background don’t do very well…'.

"As I grew up, my family were fortunate to receive the support of some fantastic public services in North Yorkshire. I would not be where I am today without the support and guidance of a great many people in my life – both personal and professional – some of whom I still work with."

Mr Cain said that at the age seven it was his job to fill in the council house applications and benefit forms – "not something I would wish on any child".

He said: "When my mum was in hospital, my sister and I were fostered by Kath and Eric, again through the local authority, and I also had the benefit of free school meals.

"It is because of this care that I received, that I am determined to work with our great public sector agencies in North Yorkshire to play our part in ensuring other children can have the same level of support that my sister and I received.

"I have a passion for ensuring North Yorkshire Police is truly a public service for all, and that we are an inclusive organisation that promotes equity amongst our workforce.

"To do this we must embrace and value our differences and not hide them away like I did at the beginning.

"Many within our minority communities look to their police officers as role models for their younger generation and we shouldn’t shy away from that responsibility - creating the same starting line for everyone.

"It matters not which box you tick, but that with the right support and determination you have every chance to succeed."

Mr Cain said North Yorkshire Police would ensure that "difference is recognised" and the force would develop people so they "get to the same starting line as everyone else, before they run their own fair race".

He said: "I didn’t know it at the time, but just because of my background, a glass ceiling existed. If I had, I think I am just so stubborn that I would have been determined to break through it anyway.

"I didn’t have conversations about doing A-levels and the pathway to university – nobody in my family had ever been to university. I suppose it was assumed that because of my background, I just wouldn’t do such things. It saddens me that even today that very same glass ceiling still affects some young people.

"Determination, drive and hard work is important if you want to succeed, but whether you are from a disadvantaged background, a minority group, or face discrimination for being you, we will support you and get you to that equal starting line.

"The support and guidance I received helped me to get to that starting line. The rest was up to me.

"But after all this time I am proud of my heritage and teach it to my children. I go back to my old school every year to attend the students’ annual awards ceremony. I tell them I am from Colburn and that glass ceilings were meant to be broken.

"I champion diversity and inclusion in the police service and I know that North Yorkshire Police is an amazing place to work if you want to come and be your best self every day and help to keep our communities safe."

He added: "So be proud of who you are, your heritage and differences. For far too long I wasn’t and I was wrong.

"And remember – those ceilings are made to be broken!"