Detective Superintendent Shabnam Chaudhri is a true inspiration to all women out there. As the highest ranking female Asian police officer in the country, this lady is amazing and a phenomenal role model to women of all ages and all cultures.
Born in Karachi, Shabnam’s father decided to leave Pakistan with his family and head to England when she was just eighteen months old. He set off in a van with Shabnam and her six siblings, crossing many continents to finally make it four weeks later to the east end of London.
‘I am a proper east end girl, I grew up in East Ham, I went to Hartley Primary school then to Plashet School’, she told the Havering Daily.
At the age of sixteen years old Shabnam got a job working in a man’s clothes shop and it was here that she began her journey into becoming one of the country’s most respected officers.
‘I developed a real eye for shoplifters and credit card fraud. When police officers came into the shop they would always tell me how much common sense I had. It’s here that I began being interested in becoming a police officer.’
At the age of eighteen and a half Shabnam first applied to join the police, but it wasn’t until seven years later that she actually joined.
‘I was knocked back for being underweight, I was too skinny, then I was too young, and finally I think they got sick of me as I never gave up and at the age of twenty five I got in.’
First posted to Tower Hamlets Shabnam can now boast being a police officer that has served every east end borough from Ilford, to Waltham Forest, Hackney, Havering and Forest Gate.
Being a female Asian police officer has not always been easy and she admits that she has had some ‘dark’ moments at times.
‘I have had some days when I didn’t want to leave my office, some dark moments, but I knew I had to and I found the strength and determination to carry on for myself and most importantly for others who wanted to follow in my footsteps.
‘As a female Asian police officer people always assume that you will get the job, that’s far from the truth. It took me three attempts to become a Chief Inspector and three attempts to become a Superintendent.’
Shabnam has recently returned from Pakistan where she was invited by the High Commission to give talks to female police officers as well as have the opportunity to meet with high ranking Generals.
As a high profile officer she was able to give empowerment and development talks to groups of female police officers.
‘It was a very humbling experience for me to be able to share my journey with these officers. It was also the first time I have been back to Pakistan and when I reached the Wagah Border I balled my eyes out.’
Shabnam is a motivational leader, who has inspired and continues to inspire women not just in London but all over the world.
‘It’s about not giving up and having the courage and determination to keep going. I’ve learnt to have a thick skin, so I’m much stronger now’.