Breaking down barriers for female officers from Yemen to Bahrain

This article appears in the April 2014 edition of the College newsletter.

​Women police officers from across the world will have the opportunity to be trained by the College of Policing to further their careers and challenge barriers to promotion.

We have committed to enabling talented female leaders in policing globally to realise their true value and help challenge barriers they face to their professional progression.

Senior female officers will undergo the College's International Women's Leadership Programme next month to further them professionally. Last year's course saw female police officers attend from Yemen, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Palestine and Algeria.

Developing female officer talent is also carried out at forces across the country.

Sergeant Ruth Colquhoun, an officer with Kent Police for 23 years who specialises in search operations, said the service has a history of supporting female officers.

"Working for the police is like no other career. It can be a gritty job, and the things most people only see once or twice in their lifetime are the things we see on a daily basis.

"On a personal level, I want to help those who are most vulnerable in society, and the support I get from my force allows me to do that.

"The service has supported me to do a degree, and will soon be supporting me to do a Masters, so I think the opportunity the organisation has given me is better than most professions."

The College has also created two new courses for female officers in the UK to develop their talent:

  • A course called Releasing Potential was designed to help women in leadership, presentation, confidence and knowledge. It is aimed at female chief inspectors, superintendents and chief superintendents.The course, which started last summer, has just concluded and trained 48 women.
  • A second course, called Realising Potential, is aimed at superintendents and has already trained 22 women.

Temporary Chief Superintendent Sunita Gamblin from Derbyshire Police completed the Releasing Potential course. She said: "Being a member of the police family changes you. You see life differently and will work with people from all walks of life.

"Along the way there are opportunities available for personal and professional advancement. The Releasing Potential programme has invested in me without a doubt and helped me to become more self-aware and take control of my career path."

In addition to these programmes, more women than men have passed a rigorous assessment to become future leaders of the service in a first for UK policing.

A total of 780 officers from across the UK applied to take part in the High Potential Development Scheme (HPDS) this year, designed to develop the most talented individuals to become police leaders of the future.

The five-year scheme has 55 places, with 28 going to women for the 2014 intake. Of the women who took part in the application process, 62 per cent were successful, compared with 34 per cent of men.

Sitting on the College of Policing Board is Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne. She said: "As a director on the Board of the College of Policing, I am delighted that it is investing in more courses to strengthen female leadership in the police service. Although the number of women in policing is increasing steadily, the level of representation at a senior level is still a challenge. Achieving gender balance at the higher ranks in the police force is something that I would like to see more of."

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