Derbyshire Police honour International Women's Day by celebrating the three women in the force's most senior positions

As the world marks International Women’s Day, Derbyshire Police have issued praise for the three women who have worked their way to the force’s most senior positions.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 2:07 pm

There are three women in Derbyshire Constabulary’s top roles for the first time in the county’s policing history.

Chief Constable Rachel Swann, Deputy Chief Constable Kate Meynell and Assistant Chief Constable Michelle Shooter, who have a combined policing experience of almost 80 years between them shared how it feels to be responsible for keeping people in Derbyshire safe.

Chief Constable Swann said: “We find ourselves a unique position, with three women in the Chief Officer team.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Chief Constable Rachel Swann (centre), Deputy Chief Constable Kate Meynell (left) and Assistant Chief Constable Michelle Shooter (right).

"The fact that we have a Chief who is female is something to really celebrate, but actually it’s also sad that it’s 2021 before that’s happened.

“For me, International Women’s Day is a way of highlighting inequalities that still exist based on gender, but also to celebrate some of the achievements that we’ve made.

"If we’re not careful we just look at the distance there is still to go, so I think it’s important to recognise the progress.”

At the beginning of the year, Chief Constable Swann appointed Kate Meynell from Nottinghamshire Police to be her deputy.

Assistant Chief Constable Michelle Shooter, who has been with Derbyshire Constabulary since 1999, also joined the other two policing chiefs after working her way up through the ranks in a number of departments across the force.

“Although we are three women, we are all very different", Assistant Chief Constable Shooter added.

“We have different skills; different personalities and I think it is that blend that enhances the leadership.”

Women make up around 60% of the county’s police workforce and between 35 to 40% of officers are women.

Previously, there was a height restriction in place to become a police officer and women were expected to deal with children at incidents rather than working alongside their male colleagues.

The Chief and Deputy Chief Constable were given uniforms including a handbag, skirt, and a smaller truncheon than their male counterparts received at the start of their career.

Derbyshire’s top police boss warned that there is still a ‘huge way to go’ in terms of equality despite celebrations such as International Women’s Day.

“Equality doesn’t exist everywhere within society, and gender is one of many factors in this", Chief Constable Swann said.

"I specifically say gender rather than ‘for women’, as I recognise the impact of gender is felt by both men and women.

"When you think about gender in terms of protected characteristics, it probably feels like it is a long established or recognised one.

"And whilst it is, there is still actually a huge way to go in terms of equality.”

Chief Constable Swann added she was firm on the importance of ‘fair and transparent processes’ in recruitment drives, with the best candidate selected on merit rather than ‘protected characteristics’.

While Deputy Chief Constable Meynell explained how it means a lot for people to see women in senior positions.

The police boss said: "You think to yourself, ‘I’m just being myself, doing my job,’ and you don’t realise that it does make a difference to people to see that people who maybe a little bit less traditional or less fitting perceived stereotypes, can make.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Phil Bramley, editor.