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Merseyside Police celebrates International Women's Day

Merseyside / March 08

Merseyside Police is celebrating International Women’s Day on Friday, 8 March, by recognising the achievements of women across the force, while looking at the need to further progress towards gender parity.

During the course of the week, we have been sharing profiles on some of our own inspirational women in Merseyside Police who have progressed into roles in what was historically seen as a male dominated profession.

Merseyside saw the first warranted police woman, Edith Smith in 1915. Edith became the first WPC in history after receiving her warrant card before women even got the right to vote. Edith’s road to policing was not a smooth one - she joined the Woman Police Volunteers in 1914 when the war broke up, where she would be called upon to deal with issues such as drunkenness, with no powers of arrest. In December 1915 the then Chief Constable said he was “most satisfied with her performance and a vote to pay the Policewomen from the rates was agreed.”

We have come a long way since the days of WPC Smith and for the first time in history the force has a female Deputy Chief Constable, alongside two other female Chief Officers. Half of the force’s Chief Superintendents are women, alongside large numbers of female superintendents and equivalents.

Merseyside Police are an inclusive employer, who work hard to be representative of all communities across Merseyside to ensure trust and confidence in the service but today is a day to celebrate in particular the women who work and volunteer with Merseyside Police.

Merseyside Police are an inclusive employer, who work hard to be representative of all communities across Merseyside to ensure trust and confidence in the service but today is a day to celebrate in particular the women who work and volunteer with Merseyside Police.

Deputy Chief Constable Serena Kennedy said: “I am extremely privileged and proud to be the first female Deputy Chief Constable of Merseyside Police and the most senior female officer in the force. While I am delighted we have such a strong established network of women in policing, we recognise we still have inroads to make.

“As Edith’s story shows, the road to equality has not been an easy one for women, but we work hard to support all of our colleagues and give them the same opportunities for progression. We actively strive towards a force that reflects the communities we serve and I am determined to support career progression for those who want to achieve and have the ability. I would encourage other women to take a serious look at policing as a career, where they can make a difference to our communities.”

She added: “Edith contributed a phenomenal amount to the history of policing and helped to pave the way for modern day police officers, particularly women and we are incredibly proud of her work.

“International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to celebrate and recognise the social, cultural and political achievements of women, but we need to ensure we celebrate our colleagues every day.”

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “Edith’s is an inspirational story and one well worth celebrating as we mark International Women’s Day. The police and society as a whole has come a long way since those times and I’m pleased to say the picture is very different today.

“We now have female leaders at some of the largest and most important policing bodies in the country, from the Met, to the NCA and the National Police Chiefs Council. I’m proud that Merseyside is one of just three areas across England and Wales to have a female Police and Crime Commissioner and Deputy, while 41% of Merseyside Police’s workforce are women.

“This is certainly worth celebrating, but we are mistaken if we imagine we have yet achieved equality for women. There is still much to do. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to recognise the struggles of women around the world, who may still find themselves in difficult, unfair and violent situations. The sad reality is that women and girls around the globe still continue to suffer from high-levels of domestic abuse, rape and sexual violence and harmful practices.

“It is by raising awareness and working together that we can tackle all these issues to improve the lives of women who are experiencing violence and gender inequality. This is essential if we are to ensure in the future it is no longer remarkable when women hold positions of authority and leadership, but the norm."

Last month, the Chief Constable announced we will be recruiting an additional 80 new police officers and 14 police staff. To find out more about roles in the force visit www.merseyside.police.uk. To find out more about Parity 21, the force’s staff network and supporting gender equality in 21st century policing visit their twitter page @MerPolParity21