The role of women in policing

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Eastern sector inspector Kate Firman of the Safer Peterborough Partnership

Last week we celebrated International Women’s Day and marked the event in Cambridgeshire Constabulary by holding a development day for women across the whole force area, with guests from the Cambridge Fire and Rescue Service.

This was an exciting opportunity, given that in the Policing and Crime Act (2017) the government is asking Police and Crime Commissioners to consider the case for closer collaboration between the blue light services in their local area, so it was great to start hearing about the challenges facing women in the fire and rescue service.

The Gender Agenda 3 Report was launched by the British Association of Women in Policing (BAWP) in 2014. The intention was to address issues affecting women in policing and to help women achieve their full potential.

The Chair of BAWP, Cressida Dick, is an ambassador for this – she has recently become the first woman Police Commissioner for the Met. Within the report researchers and practitioners both identified how important female role models are in inspiring and motivating other women who work within policing.

This is a subject close to my heart, not just because I am a woman in policing, but also because I chair the women’s network for Cambridgeshire Constabulary and am responsible for helping take women’s issues forward.

I was lucky to have some truly inspirational speakers on the day, our acting Assistant Chief Constable, Vicky Skeels (PICTURED), gave an honest account of her career including difficult decisions she’s had to make along the way – turning down temporary promotion to ensure she could be there for her young children.

A Superintendent spoke about the challenges of being a public order commander in a man’s world.

A Detective Chief Inspector talked about the responsibility of being a Senior Investigating Officer and the force lead for modern slavery and issues which effect women such as female genital mutilation and honour-based violence.

Senior women in civilian roles shared how they had started their career later in life and still been able to achieve seniority, as well as how they had been in a job-share as the strategic lead for Workforce Planning and Resourcing with their colleague for 13 years!

We teased out some of these issues in the afternoon break-out sessions and also had workshops promoting good health and wellbeing – there are more than 350 women in the constabulary potentially going through the menopause at the moment, so we discussed the challenges this can bring to the workplace. We also discussed good mental health as statistics show you are more likely to suffer with poor mental health if you work in the emergency services.