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Women part time workers still want to be on frontline, says BAWP

Greater Manchester Police have been hailed by the British Association of Women in Policing for being one of the only forces to recruit part-time officers
Published - 09/09/2021 By - Chloe Livadeas

Greater Manchester Police and the Met have been cited as lead forces for clear policy leadership around part time working.

The uplift has shown the service isn’t having problems attracting women but still does have issues in getting them on the first step on the leadership ladder according to Dee Collins, Secretary of the BAWP, retired chief constable of West Yorkshire Police and previous NPCC lead for gender. 

Speaking during a British Association for Women in Policing (BAWP) seminar at the Emergency Services Show in Birmingham she said women often don't see themsleves as leaders. 

“Some people do not have great experiences and go back into the community and talk about how they’re treated," she said. 

“it’s not just about numbers, it is about [making sure] that their experience in policing is a supportive one.”

One of the biggest issues for female officers is part-time working due to child care commitments and the seminar heard that Greater Manchester and the Met have both got some good practice in place. 

Anna Rickards is a Detective Sergeant with GMP and chair of GMP's BAWP.

The BAWP in Manchester asked the then chief constable Ian Hopkins last year if he would recruit on a part-time basis. They now have 14 new PCs who are due to start work part-time in November.

Two officers will share one post, splitting the hours 50/50.

The only other force to recruit part-time is the Met, who DS Rickards said they took the idea from.

She told Police Oracle it had real “potential to change the workforce and the public's perception that part timers are these women predominantly who sit in an office".

"That was certainly my experience of part time," she said. "I just wanted to be frontline again. I just wanted to do what I'd always done. And I didn't see why reduction in hours should change my skill set and the value that I bring.”

DS Rickards is yet to meet with new chief constable Steve Watson but is hopeful the scheme will continue under his leadership.

Speaking alongside Ms Collins was Nikki Butt, Co-Vice President and a member of police staff with Northamptonshire Police.

Ms Butt said: “Sometimes it’s a hard barrier, sometimes it’s a softer barrier. You don’t see people around you seeing part time roles and if you see it you can’t be it."

She said the BAWP can help to connect women working part time outside of their immediate network.

“That can helps build confidence that it can be done even when you can’t see it around you,” she said.

Former cc and BAWP Secretary Dee Collins 

The shift towards more women in top jobs was hailed as a positive environment for such change.

“In the last 15 months 20 chiefs have been appointed – ten were women,” said Ms Collins. 

“The very fact there are more women as leaders is helping to broaden that diversity inclusion and gender we’ve been talking about a lot,” she added.

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