In celebration of International Women’s Day 2020, Sussex Police welcomed more than a hundred people to its first Women in Policing careers event on Thursday 5 March in Crawley.
Attendees got the chance to meet staff and officers to find out first-hand what it’s like to work for the force and the wide variety of roles available. The event, held at the Arora Hotel, was aimed mainly at women, but was open to all to attract a cross-section of those interested in a career in policing.
Deputy Chief Constable Jo Shiner, who began her policing career in Norfolk as a PC probationer in 1993, was among officers who shared their inspiring career journey with the audience.
“To me, International Women’s Day is about recognising the impressive work that my female colleagues and friends do every day.
“We are at a point in history where we have more women police officers than at any other time. This event presents an excellent opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women officers and to help us continue to create a more inclusive organisation, better reflecting the communities we serve.
“It builds on the success of the first UK Policing Gender Equality Summit in November 2019, when Sussex Police, supported by UN Women, brought together all 43 UK police forces to advance gender equality and improve representation of women in policing, particularly at senior levels.
“In celebrating the amazing women who work for our force – and male colleagues who champion them – this careers event will help us attract and retain the best possible talent, so that we can better represent and serve our community.”
A range of roles and specialisms were showcased by officers and staff at the event, from forensics and firearms to working in investigations, including both civilian and officer roles.
Chief Inspector Di Lewis, who recently became District Commander of Lewes and Eastbourne, was one of the female officers who took part in the event.
“As women, we bring fantastic skills to police work and it’s important we celebrate our achievements. As women, we often don’t believe in ourselves and our abilities. This evening is about being aware of our successes and how good we are.
“I joined Sussex Police in 1993 as a PC, and the force has been a fantastic employer in supporting me through having a child and being a single mum. Through this kind of support, we ensure we retain women officers so they can reach their full potential, reaching senior ranks. I am Mental Health Lead for Sussex Police, and mentor both men and women to support their career progression and personal growth.”
For those interested in becoming a dog handler, PC Stephanie Barrett was at the event to share what it’s like to have her dream job.
“I’ve always loved animals, and I joined the police force specifically to become a dog handler. From day one it’s all I wanted to do.
“The role is more than just a job; it’s a partnership between dog and handler that lasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Both my police dogs live with me – Gem is a general purpose German Shephard and Basil is a specialist “sniffer” Spaniel.
“As a police officer, the hardest thing about my job is that we see both the best and worst of life, but I am lucky to have the best crew mates in the world.”
Other departments and networks attending the event included traffic police, investigations, vetting and PCSOs. The Recruitment team were there to promote job opportunities, and give advice about eligibility and fitness. Sussex’s Positive Action Team and Evolve, the staff support group for gender were also there to provide inspiration and advice.
International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrates the achievements of women whilst also highlighting that action still needs to happen in order to reach gender equality.
The IWD 2020 campaign theme is being #EachforEqual, with a focus on how equality is not a women’s issue, it’s everyone’s responsibility, individually and collectively.
Sussex Police was the first police force globally to collaborate with the United Nations on their gender equality initiative, HeForShe, and in 2017 Chief Constable Giles York became the first HeForShe Global Champion for Law Enforcement.
Through the pioneering work of Sussex Superintendent Miles Ockwell, all the policing organisations in the UK have now signed up to the HeForShe commitments to improve the gender balance both in police workforces and the community; and to continue to work to combat domestic abuse and sexual abuse in society