The Met is marking International Women’s Day (IWD) with events across London, following a weekend that saw the force’s first dedicated all-female operation.
IWD is an opportunity to highlight the important roles occupied by thousands of women. The celebrations are extending to every London borough to recognise and celebrate the contribution and achievements of the Met’s almost 15,000 female officers and staff.
It follows a weekend that saw the first all-female operation with a team of women officers coming together in Lambeth and Southwark to tackle the Met’s main priority of violent crime by focusing on robbery.
Run by a diverse selection of 34 Met women, the team began their late shift at 14:00hrs on Saturday, 6 March, responding specifically to calls about robberies – a priority for the two boroughs – as well as other violent incidents. Every role, from driving to processing prisoners and reviewing evidence, in plainclothes or in uniform, was performed by women. The team also included female special constables.
In her comments to mark IWD, the Met’s Commissioner appeals to the capital’s women to consider the diverse and challenging roles that await those who make the decision to pursue policing.
Dame Cressida Dick said: “I would like to mark this IWD by thanking each and every one of our existing female employees for their hard work and dedication. I am delighted that the Met has been able to organise such an impressive range of great activities and would like to take this chance to urge all women to consider the wide variety of job opportunities on offer if they choose to join us.
“That choice will open the door to an exceptional and highly skilled service, where they will get excellent training to equip them for the unique challenges of policing a place like London and great support from both female and male colleagues to become the very best they can be.
“The Met already offers a wide breadth of interesting and rewarding career paths for a range of fantastic people with diverse skills and life experiences, and we are determined to continue striving towards a workforce that is truly representative of all our communities in this great city.
“That’s the reason we want encourage even more talented women, particularly from the Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, to think about joining the thousands of females we already have thriving at all levels and in all kinds of roles, each of whom is making a difference every single day. There really has been no better time to be a woman in the Met.”
IWD events and activities
The following events and activities are taking place across the Met to mark IWD:
An officer from the South West Integrated Offender Management team will join agency partners from across Kingston, Richmond, Wandsworth and Merton to talk about the impact of lockdown at a virtual event organised by the Refuge Domestic Violence Advocacy and Outreach Service. The borough has also produced a range of videos with female staff talking about the different roles they perform. The video, which includes a clip from the Commissioner, will be shared on the Met’s social media channels.
Over in Hackney and Tower Hamlets, there will be a Twitter ‘takeover’ with an all-female response car tweeting live updates as they answer 999 calls through the day.
Male officers in the two boroughs will be showing solidarity with their female colleagues by sharing their support on social media as part of the #ChooseToChallenge theme of this year’s IWD. There will also be two virtual roadshows that will include videos of female officers and input from the local ally for ‘He4She’ – the global campaign for solidarity with gender equality. The Met has now seen 300 employees sign up to be He4She allies.
Meanwhile up in north London, the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation is extending one of the virtual exercise and wellbeing sessions it has been running through lockdown for local Met employees in Enfield and Haringey to the whole of the organisation.
The Met’s Black Police Association and Association of Muslim Police will play a key part in the day. Their ‘Invisible Woman’ event will see contributors talking about how to overcome being overlooked while a second event will feature top speakers including Dilara Ulker, the first Muslim astronaut.
There will also be a chance to meet the Met’s most senior black female officer, Commander Dr Alison Heydari, along with two of her colleagues, at a virtual evening event.
Tonight, Commissioner Cressida Dick and Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball will be at New Scotland Yard – which will be lit up in purple from 16:00hrs until 07:00hrs on Tuesday 9 March – to welcome 100 girls aged 10 to 18 to an online event. This will see the Senior Volunteer Police Cadet hosting a Q and A session with the Commissioner, followed by a quiz and facilitated career discussions with a number of inspirational Met women.
This week will also see an opportunity for staff to directly question nine of the Met’s top female and male leaders at virtual Q and A sessions as part of a new ‘Audience With’ initiative.
In line with this year’s IWD theme of #ChooseToChallenge, the Met’s Network of Women has created a series of online events to challenge mind, body and spirit. These include a virtual careers fairs and a motivational talk on ‘imposter syndrome’ from a senior Amazon executive, a virtual fitness session run by the Territorial Support Group and a fun end to the day with a mind reader and magician activity aimed at parents and children.
With more pathways than ever in place to provide entry routes, the organisation has worked hard to put in place initiatives that give women increased flexibility – a factor that research shows is key for females when they are considering career choices.
All operational policing roles are open to women, from responding to emergency calls, running complex investigations to tackle serious and organised crime; deploying on armed operations, supervising surveillance teams to supporting victims of crime and abuse – to name but a few. The appointment of Cressida Dick herself back in 2017 showed there truly were no limits on what females in the force could achieve.
In 2019, the Met became the first police force to offer recruits the chance to work part-time from the start of their career. This January marked the start of the first cohort on the exciting apprenticeship programme (PCDA) which offers the chance to earn an officer salary while being fully funded for a degree.
The first 150 recruits included a teaching assistant, an ex prison officer and an athlete. 51 per cent were female, with 29 percent coming from BAME communities.
The dedicated programme which allows individuals to train to be a detective without first being a uniformed officer continues to attract a diverse selection of recruits, as do the long established pathways of volunteering and working as a special constable with a view to progressing into the force. Returnships and transferee routes also continue to prove popular with women.
Those who join will enjoy increased maternity benefits as well as the existing host of in-work benefits including a generous pension and annual leave allowance and continuous professional development opportunities.
The Met’s aspiration is for 40 per cent of all new recruits to be from BAME backgrounds from 2022, and for half of all police officers to be women.
More information about joining the Met is available online.