Today I’m delighted to have the lovely Rebecca Bradley joining me on the blog today. Rebecca has written an excellent guest post on Sexism in Modern Policing which I get to share with you guys!
Rebecca has recently published a novella, Three Weeks Dead, which is a prequel for the DI Hannah Robbins series and you can get your copy by clicking HERE.
And click HERE to have look at Rebecca Bradley’s Amazon page and her books!
About the book:
How far would you go if someone took your wife?
Especially, if you buried her a week ago.
When Jason Wells is faced with this scenario, he is confronted with the prospect of committing a crime that will have far-reaching consequences.
Can young DC Sally Poynter get through to him before he crosses that line, or does a desperate husband prove to be the case she won’t ever forget?
About Rebecca Bradley:
Rebecca Bradley is a retired police detective and lives in Nottinghamshire with her family and her two cockapoo’s Alfie and Lola, who keep her company while she writes. Rebecca needs to drink copious amounts of tea to function throughout the day and if she could, she would survive on a diet of tea and cake while committing murder on a regular basis, in her writing of course.
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And without further ado, I’ll hand you over to Rebecca…
Sexism in Modern Day Policing
Firstly, I want to thank Kate for having me on the blog today, especially after a bit of a mix up with dates thanks to a hastily arranged medical procedure throwing me off kilter, making me forget to write this! So, thank you for still having me Kate.
I’m a medically retired police detective, having served for 16 years before retirement. I worked 8 years in uniform and 8 years as a plain clothes detective in a specialist unit.
I asked Kate if she’d be interested in this topic because in Three Weeks Dead, the novella I’ve just released, my DC, Sally Poynter, starts her first shifts on the Major Crimes Unit and faces a misogynistic colleague. It got me to wondering what the perception was of sexism in modern day policing – would my story of it be believed?
So, with that in mind, I thought I’d write a blog piece. A behind the scenes look, if you will, because there have been plenty of news articles on the topic over the years. Only in August of this year, ex-Chief Constable of Northumbria, Sue Sim stated that there was a ‘sexist, money-grabbing, boys’ club culture’ within her own force. This is a 2016 news article not 1980s sentiment as you might imagine. Examples in the press tend to be the extremes, though. The big cases that involve outlandish statements or large sums of monies when women sue forces for sexism. I wanted to give a personal view, a personal working experience.
This is that.
I joined the police in 1999. My tutor was a long-serving male officer and a nicer officer/man, you couldn’t wish to meet. I was incredibly lucky to be sent out onto the streets with him as my guide. With (we’ll call him Derek) Derek, I got to hear about how life in the police was in the ‘old days’. He used to love to tell me the tales about how women officers never even used to be allowed into the main station, they had their own shed to work from which was set up in the car park. Can you believe that, they had a shed to work from? And their work was to look after the women and children. If you look at it from that point of view, then women in the police service has moved on considerably.
As a probationary constable, I was treated as part of the team, right from my first day. But, there was one officer, who, when we went out together, said to me once, and I’ve never forgotten it – ‘If someone does a runner, I’ll give you my hat to hold while I run after them.’
Well, I’m not a shy retiring flower. I gave him some earache and as soon as we were back in the station I made sure everyone else knew so they could give him earache. It wasn’t malicious, not on his part or on mine. We ribbed him about the stupidity of his comment and that was how I dealt with it. I was lucky to work with a great group of people.
I was also very lucky to be told during a discussion one evening that one of the guys would rather go into a fight (pub fight or some other similar public disorder incident) with me than some of the other male choices he had. My early years were positive and I didn’t see – other than one stupid, but not malicious male – misogyny.
But, that’s it, isn’t it? Does sexism have to be malicious to cause harm to its subject? Or does the hapless, speak-before-they-think, male, still fall into this category? I don’t think hat-holder meant to offend, he was a lovely guy in every other way, but I do think he considered himself the better option to go off during the chase.
Other than the early incidents (there may have been a couple with hat-holder), I never saw my career being hampered or held up because of my gender. My health was doing enough of that for me in later years!
What I did notice though, was how female officers of rank were talked about. How they dressed, wore their hair and even how they smelled were perfectly acceptable discussion points. In fact, these were practically all that were mentioned rather than work issues. Women in such a strong work environment are fighting to be seen on an equal footing. Don’t let it fool you that we have female Chief Constables and females of higher ranks so women must be winning the fight for equality within the walls of policing, because these women have worked hard to get where they are, but I’m betting you, someone, somewhere, below them, is discussing what they’re wearing (if in plain clothes) how they’re styling their hair and how they smell – women wear perfume, get over it.
No, I didn’t find myself up against sexism, but had my health allowed me to progress the promotion ladder, I most certainly would have been discussed in terms of all the above when out of earshot, rather than what it was we were working on.
This is not acceptable and policing has a long way to go to have women on a real equal footing. There is still education to be done amongst the lower ranks about women and their progression. I adored the job, but it doesn’t mean I’m blind to its flaws.
Within the police there are a couple of associations, the Black Police Association, and Women’s Police Association to name a couple. What I regularly heard from white males, was why wasn’t there a white male association. Many just don’t understand the difficulties facing women (or black/minority ethnic officers), they see that women are now progressing, but they don’t notice the underlying problems that are still there. That women officers might need the support of fellow women officers. That if there wasn’t an issue in the first place the associations wouldn’t have existed. According to Gov.uk 2015 only 30% of the police service is made up of women and of those only 21% are Chief Inspector or above.
While some women may have broken through the glass ceiling in policing and made it all the way to Chief Constable level, the way in which they are perceived by their peers and subordinates, is another issue entirely.
Women in policing – there is a long way to go. There is still work to do. And it’s work that everyone, women included need to be a part of. There is sexism in the police service, but it’s not always as overt as you’d expect it to be. Now it needs to be brought out from the shadows and all officers just do the job and love it, regardless of the gender they are or the gender of those they work with, below or above.
Huge thanks to Rebecca for taking the time to come up with such an interesting guest post! I thoroughly enjoyed reading that, and getting a glimpse into her time working in the police.
I was lucky enough to be a part of Rebecca’s previous blog tour too, and you can click the link below to have a look at another great post!