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Fedster

Gender equality in policing 'nowhere near' good enough

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Fedster

NPCC boss and struggling officers say more needs to be done.

Chief Constable Sara Thornton speaking at BTP's event celebrating 100 years of women in the force

Chief Constable Sara Thornton speaking at BTP's event celebrating 100 years of women in the force

 

Progress has been made in terms of improving gender equality within the police service but more needs to be done, Chief Constable Sara Thornton says.

National Police Chiefs' Council chairman CC Thornton spoke at a British Transport Policing event celebrating 100 years of women in the force last week.

She said the employment and promotion of female officers had improved recently with Home Office figures revealing a year on year increase in the number of women joining the force as well as those who gained promotion.

Of the 3,255 officers promoted in 2016/17, 876 were female - 27 per cent - an increase on the year before when 442 female officers promoted.

The proportion of female police officers in England and Wales has also increased for the tenth year in a row.

There are now 35,844 female police officers in the UK, accounting for more than 29 per cent of the work force - up from 24 per cent  =in 2007.

Additionally of the 209 chief officers - 56 (27 per cent) are women.

CC Thornton said: “That (the number of women in policing) has changed enormously since I’ve become a chief officer.

“Numbers matter and there has been progress, but more needs to be done.

“It’s difficult to have equality in the workplace if there’s no equality at home.

“If you are doing 95 per cent of the childcare, 90 per cent of the home care and trying to work full time – this is a recipe for stress.

“We can’t do everything at home and expect to flourish at work.”

Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime in London echoed CC Thornton's statement. She told delegates: “There is a long way to go to make sure we have equality. I know it’s an improvement, but it’s nowhere near where it should be.”

Police Oracle recently spoke with two female officers experiencing the promotional process.

They say the issues they face are numerous - from limited flexible working to anxiety, however, the paramount issue was time.

A Merseyside officer of 11 years, who asked to remain anonymous, passed her sergeant exams in April and is now in the process of compiling a portfolio to become an acting sergeant.

The 35-year-old PC says it is easier for men to gain promotion as they have less family commitments and more time on their side.

She revealed exam preparation could only be managed on her rest days. She said: “I would head straight to the library from 9am till 2pm to get my studying done in such a short window.

“If I stayed at home I would feel as though I needed to get housework done instead. As a result things at home have to suffer.

“Men wouldn’t have these restrictions, they have more opportunities to study. I felt a lot of pressure to get things done in such a small space of time. At times I felt envious.”

She said one of her female colleagues, a single parent, failed her sergeant exam but felt if she had been given more time to study, she would have passed.

“I don’t know how the force can create more time for people. The working environment is getting harder and harder – our numbers have gone down massively – so it can’t give people time to revise on duty," she added.

“I don’t get time to eat lunch let alone revise. You just need to fit it in where you can.

“It’s tricky. My force has nothing in place for women and there is no extra help.”

Merseyside Police offers a range of support groups for women to encourage and mentor them into promotions but cannot assist with time constraints.

Another officer, who has served Lincolnshire Police since 2009, sat both sergeants exams just two weeks after giving birth to twins.

She dropped out of the process and the interview stage to start maternity leave and was happy to return to her previous post as a probation officer.

The PC was also offered the opportunity to join the response team, but declined the offer. She said “I was unable to do 24/7 policing, it was a big enough shock to the system going back to work, let alone 24/7 policing.

“I am currently on a flexi-pattern where I get a day off with the children – there is no opportunity to revise and I struggled to fit everything in.

“We need strong females in high ranks because it’s important to have mentors.”

Similarly, CC Thornton had to sit her sergeant’s exam when she was serving the Metropolitan Police Service just a day after giving birth to her first son.

“I romantically thought I could have the baby then do the exam,” CC Thornton said.

“It was just as well because my baby was born a day before the sergeant’s exam - which I took in hospital in a dressing gown.” 

CC Thornton added: “We need to challenge lazy stereotypes, we need to make sure the process of selection is fair, or seems to be fair, in my view it does matter if you’ve got all men - it just sends the wrong kind of message. I think it does matter if you’ve got all men on a selection board – again it sends the wrong message.

“I have two sons and the whole issue about juggling care responsibilities is not just about children. A lot of you, I’m sure, are in that position in life where you are trying to juggle care for elderly parents too. That’s more and more of an issue for our generation.

“The only advice I could ever make is you’ve just got to do the best you can.”

View on Police Oracle

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SimonT

"Men wouldn’t have these restrictions, they have more opportunities to study. I felt a lot of pressure to get things done in such a small space of time. At times I felt envious.”

What a diverse and fair statement. 

I certainly found it a doddle to miss every evening for months to study. Making sure I prioritise the children and my partner with the understanding that they would be picking up the slack for a bit as I was trying to get promoted. 

 

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Pete
3 hours ago, Fedster said:

The 35-year-old PC says it is easier for men to gain promotion as they have less family commitments and more time on their side.

.... what?

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Reasonable Man

As long as the female officer gets home on time to make her old man's tea, bath the kids and put them to bed. Iron husbands clothes before packing him off to the pub she should have plenty of time to study, as long as she's done the dishes and got his supper ready by the time he gets back.

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Hyphen

As a male who has children and does an awful lot of childcare and associated tasks and struggles to get time to do any sort of extra revision etc I find this article one of the most offensive things I have read in a long time. Pretty disgraceful really.

I wish we could stop this constant division. The issues aren’t due to gender, they are due to people’s personal circumstances.

 

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MerseyLLB

What is it that activists are aiming for? 

50% split of women and men in chief roles? 

50% split of women and men across the whole workforce? 

50% split in every department? 

I would be very surprised If, in order to reach such ideals, we didnt have to move away from meritocracy.

Are females over represented in mounted departments? Should we be holding male only recruitment processes to boost the number of men in such posts?

The point about childcare is true in one regard. In my experience many female officers work flexi shifts for child care reasons and 'can't work nights/tuesdays/Sundays'. The men? They're the ones who come in on normal shifts knackered because they are managing their childcare on the standard shift pattern. 41% of cohabiting opposite sex couples have dependent children living with them. If we put that figure into the police - could we survive if 41% of the workforce wanted to work flexi? 

For me, single and childless, the closest comparison I can make with my life is having a dog. I currently work long 24/7 shifts where I'm often out of the house 14+ hours a day. Why don't I have a dog? Because I'm focused on my career, want to work full time and it wouldn't be fair on the dog to juggle round having people to come and look after it. I like dogs more than I like people so to me I can't understand why people who choose to have children then moan that they have to look after them and aren't able to also give their career 100%. 

 

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Pathca

A lot of that article could have been written 30 plus years ago when I started policing. I don't think you will ever get 50/50 in the police as you won't in nursing. I agree with Mersey,and am probably letting the sisterhood down but people have babies ( I didn't) knowing they need to be looked after and the having it all culture has gone too far to some extent There are ways. I have a female relative who earns more than her OH  could so he is a househusband ,he has managed to turn a hobby into a business and so works when she is off and it suits them well. I think sacrifices do have to be made ,it shouldn't be the female partner that makes them necessarily but I don't think it is today 

Edited by Pathca

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Zulu 22

I agree with Mersey and Pathca. When my wife, who is was a nurse, decided to start a family, it was her choice to be at home to bring up the children in a stable manner. She gave the stability and guidance which was needed with my support when I was home.  When the children were old enough she returned to Nursing, again her choice. It the Police should ever get a 50/50 split between the to sexes then there will be a wholesale breakdown in law and Order, more so than now. Studying for promotion exams is the same for both sexes, they both have to find time from a busy schedule.  In my case I found the study relatively easy as I chose to keep up my study on a daily and weekly basis after leaving Bruche.

It is a huge salient point about women working Flexi time to suit, not working nights, unsocial shifts etc, when their male counterparts are knackering themselves on shifts and night duty whilst trying to arrange some form of family time in between. The aggravation for greater women's rights is not coming from activists without, it is being aided by activists, of high rank, from within.

I am wondering when the National Police Chiefs' Council chairman CC Thornton, last worked nights not the odd one, but year in year out.

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SD

I agree there’s an unfair gender split in policing. In most forces there’s a disproportionate number of males working frontline, 24/7 shifts and in dangerous roles. It should be 50/50.

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Cathedral Bobby

There are natural differences between men and woman which predispose them to being naturally better at some tasks than others. In the next conflict would we want to see 50/50 split of men and women on the battle front. This is in no way suggesting that we send large numbers of women out on the frontline, but those who want to should be able to. I suspect that some tasks however, like with nursing, are prefered by one of the sexes.

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Mac7

I was on a course recently with two people from the RAF. They categorically disagreed that females should serve within the RAF regiment and stated women physically are not strong enough to perform the role. Both the persons on the course were female.

I’m fed up with all the press around gender pay gap, not enough women or people from BME backgrounds in senior positions. I genuinely do not see race, gender etc. I see competence and would rather have the most qualified or experienced person for the job regardless. I think people who do see gender, race etc and make a deal of it have the issues. I’ve said it many times on here, we are in danger of creating artificial diversity.

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Zulu 22

Macc,  I agree with you. I have heard more female officers argue that there are roles that women cannot or should not do. The problem seems to be that the PC brigade will not accept such an opinion. You will be condemned as being anti women when you are not. The last time I looked my wife and 3 daughters are all female and happen to hold the same view.

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Growley
On ‎11‎/‎14‎/‎2017 at 14:43, Fedster said:

The 35-year-old PC says it is easier for men to gain promotion as they have less family commitments and more time on their side.

She revealed exam preparation could only be managed on her rest days. She said: “I would head straight to the library from 9am till 2pm to get my studying done in such a short window.

“If I stayed at home I would feel as though I needed to get housework done instead. As a result things at home have to suffer.

“Men wouldn’t have these restrictions, they have more opportunities to study. I felt a lot of pressure to get things done in such a small space of time. At times I felt envious.”

Having a life outside of work is difficult. Having children and caring for them is difficult. I don't think anyone can reasonably argue otherwise. The thing I don't like, is the notion that this only affects women.

As much as there are roles in the job where downtime to do a bit of studying is available, I'm struggling to see what the job could or should reasonably do to make studying time for parents, just because they're parents.

 

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Beaker
As much as there are roles in the job where downtime to do a bit of studying is available, I'm struggling to see what the job could or should reasonably do to make studying time for parents, just because they're parents.
 

As a parent I don't see why parents should have any extra allowances. Its our decision to have kids, we made our situation, nobody else is to blame. I'm the primary parent in our house because I work shifts in my day job. I do most of childcare, cooking, cleaning etc. That isn't going to change any time soon either as wife's new job means she'll be even less flexible than I am already. I'm still considering an application to the regs in January, and any inconvenience will be mine to deal with. It'd be massively unfair to expect special considerations.
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