A blueprint for the future of women police officers will be launched in Birmingham on Tuesday August 21, supported by representatives from almost every police force in Britain.


Chief Constables and frontline officers will be joined by Home Office Minister Bob Ainsworth MP, and other special guests to launch the Gender Agenda, at West Midlands Police Sports and Conference Centre, Tally Ho! on Tuesday August 21, 2001.


The Gender Agenda is the result of an 18-month collaboration between a group of women police officers, a university professor and policing experts from the Home Office. The document they produced outlines the main issues and dilemmas affecting women officers who make up just 16 per cent of the total police service, compared with 44 per cent of the UK’s general working population.


Assistant Chief Constable Julie Spence of Thames Valley Police, who is also President of the British Association of Women Police, has been instrumental in driving forward the project.


“The Gender Agenda is not about ‘men bad, women good’ or political correctness for its own sake, it’s about common sense,” explains ACC Spence. “We want to help individual women officers maximise their potential which in turn leads to benefits for the whole organisation – increasing forces’ performance and so improving the service we offer to the public.


“We also recognise that many men support and endeavour to understand the dilemmas faced by minority groups - and women in particular - and not all women do.”


The Gender Agenda highlights out-dated practices and suggests ways in which the police service could be a more modern and progressive employer. Some of the challenges faced by female officers include:

·       equipment and protective clothing designed for men rather than women

·       old-fashioned physical tests which need adapting to be relevant to 21st century policing

·       managers refusing to recognise work/life balance issues and who only grudgingly consider part-time working or flexi-hours

·       long-term residential courses meaning extended time away from home and associated family care problems



“When, for example, we talk about child care there is an immediate assumption that this is a problem solely for women officers, but there is a growing number of men who are raising children on their own. The same situation arises with caring for elderly relatives. There is a growing skills shortage and the police service should be doing everything possible to attract and to keep people with invaluable experience and expertise, not penalise them for having a family and a life outside work.”


ACC Spence and her colleagues are now seeking the support of a broad cross section of police officers and organisations to help achieve the aims of the Gender Agenda. These aims include:

·       achieving a balance of women police officers consistent with the proportion of women in the general working population

·       ensuring there is the right working environment and equipment to enable women officers to do their job professionally

·       developing an understanding of the challenges faced in achieving a successful work/life balance

·       ensuring women’s views are represented on influential police policy-making bodies


At the launch on August 21, guest speakers will include Bob Ainsworth MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office, and Professor Jennifer Brown of the University of Surrey. A group of high profile guest panellists will also be at the event to give their organisation’s perspective on the Gender Agenda, and to answer questions from delegates. The panel comprises:


Dan Crompton HM Inspectorate of Constabulary
Dr Marie Dickie Association of Police Authorities
Tony Burden President of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)
Kevin Morris President of the Superintendents' Association
Fred Broughton Chairman of the Police Federation of England & Wales
Ravi Chand Chair of the National Black Police Association
Chris Mould Director of National Police Training
Ian Blair Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police



“I hope this launch helps raise awareness, encourage debate and create better understanding within and outside the police service about the challenges and dilemmas facing women officers,” said ACC Spence. “A modern and responsive police service needs a range of viewpoints and experience that only a balanced workforce can provide.


“The Gender Agenda is not ‘tinkering with the numbers’ as cynics may believe, it is trying to ensure the police service of the 21st century better reflects and responds to the needs of the society it serves.”


For more information about the people who have produced The Gender Agenda, click here

To download a 'pdf' copy of The Gender Agenda, click here.

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