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  1. Recruitment drive set in motion as force celebrates 100 years of women in policing. The Commissioner and fellow officers mark 100 years of women in the Met Date - 22nd November 2018 By - Sophie Garrod - Police Oracle 9 Comments The Metropolitan Police Service has today launched a female-specific recruitment campaign. Commissioner Cressida Dick says she wants to recruit more women than ever before, aiming long-term for 50 per cent of the work force to be women – at the moment it is just under 27 per cent. The campaign called ‘Strong’ aims to tackle the known barriers for women, challenging stereotypes and increasing awareness of the wide range of HR initiatives already in place to support women in the workplace. This career path is not just open to Londoners with the capital residency requirement lifted in order to open up recruitment to the rest of the UK. It will feature ‘strong’ past and present role models, including Britain’s first black female officer Sislin Fay Allen, to encourage more women to apply. Only three per cent of the force's female officers come from BME backgrounds, but the aspiration is to reach 20 per cent. Comm Dick said: “I’m immensely proud to today mark the launch of our celebrations for our centenary of women officers. With our brilliant history and the inspiring achievements of current and past female officers and staff, the experiment was not only a success, it was the start of our legacy to policing and to London. I want to thank all women officers and staff, past and present, for their dedication and service to the Met. All of us who are thriving today owe so much to the brave pioneers of the past. “I want to use this celebration to appeal to all women to consider having a career in the Met. Being a police officer is a diverse and challenging job, but it is extremely rewarding and you get to make a difference to so many people. Today, we have launched our female-specific recruitment campaign and there is no better time to be a woman in the Met.” Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball told Police Oracle attitudes towards women in the force from male colleagues have always been positive from her experience. She said: “I think that 31 years ago [when she first joined] the attitudes I experienced were very good and I have always felt supported by my male colleagues, being able to be part of a good team, and I think that rings absolutely true today.” The Met must also strengthen flexible working for women, particularly after child birth, she believes. Last year, Police Oracle spoke to two female officers who explained the difficulties faced when trying to study for promotions whilst juggling parenthood. Chief Constable Sara Thornton also exclaimed gender equality in policing is 'nowhere near' good enough. However, the number of female police officers has increased for the 11th year in a row. There were 36,417 female officers in the 43 police forces in March 2018, 573 more than the previous year and making up 30 per cent of officers in England and Wales. Ass Comm Ball said detective roles are particularly attractive to women, with half of its detective recruitment classes now comprising females. “I think the more that women see women in policing, the more encouraged they are to join. Therefore, we hope today’s events will really get people to see that there are women thriving and working really well in London and they’ll think ‘ah, I can do that, I’ll join’”, she added. The number of applicants for female firearms officers is also increasing. PC Faye McSweeney, working on the recruitment team for the firearms command, said her unit is underrepresented by females and has been pushing for more to apply by taking them on fitness days to change their mind set. Last year her unit had 22 female applicants but this year it is hitting the 50 mark. She said: “The biggest challenge is, and I found this talking to a lot of females recently, is they have all said they don’t think they are fit enough or good enough. But once you break down that barrier and explain 'you can do it', taking them on fitness days and telling them ‘look how good you are’ - I think it’s just a mental block. “I don’t know why there is this mental block that I need to diminish.” PC McSweeney, who joined 21 years ago starting out in counter-terrorism, like Ass Comm Ball, praised how male colleagues have treated her and said she has “never come across sexism or any form of machoism”. Female public order officers are also being asked to consider applying for a firearms role in the future. The new recruitment campaign runs alongside the force celebrating 100 years of female police officers in the Met. It was 100 years ago today, on November 22, 1918, that the then Commissioner Sir Cecil Macready officially announced the Met would have female police officers – known as the Women Patrols. A group of female Met police officers in Westminster in 1919 This followed the Home Secretary accepting the Commissioner’s proposal to form a department of women police officers under the supervision of Superintendent Sofia Stanley. Only two years earlier, a Daily Express reporter asked a Scotland Yard official: “Is there any possibility of women being employed as Police Constables?" The reply was "No, not even if the war lasts 50 years.” However, they were proven wrong in February 1919 when the first female officers took to the streets of London, some 90 years after the Met was founded by Sir Robert Peel in 1829. View On Police Oracle

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