Today, Avon and Somerset Police’s Chief Inspector Sharon Baker has been awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Women in Policing Award 2021 at the Police Federation of England and Wales’ (PFEW) annual conference.
C/Inspector Baker was awarded for her outstanding work around domestic violence including a powerful video she made sharing her own experience of living in a controlling and abusive relationship. The video, which was shared via Avon and Somerset Police’s social media platforms and has subsequently been viewed by thousands of people, urged other victims to break the silence about their abuse and to find help and support as soon as possible.
The video caused a ripple effect through the community with many people sharing their support towards C/Inspector Baker, and others commenting that she had inspired them to talk about, and report, their own experiences of abuse.
C/Inspector Baker, who is also the strategic lead for domestic abuse at Avon and Somerset Police, has continued her work by working together with partner organisations to improve services delivered to victims and has spearheaded a new framework to address how disclosures of domestic abuse are managed within Avon and Somerset Police. Her video is also being used by other police forces as part of domestic abuse training for frontline officers.
This year marks the seventh annual Outstanding Contribution to Women in Policing Award – recognising the dedication to duty by female officers and celebrating those who have gone above and beyond to make a difference, resulting in a positive impact on others.
C/Inspector Baker’s work was singled out amongst a record number of nominations to the Outstanding Contribution to Women in Policing Award.
Zoe Wakefield, Chair of PFEW’s National Women’s Group, said: “By bravely sharing her own experiences of domestic abuse, C/Inspector Baker has given a voice to those who have felt unable to speak out. Her dedication to using her own personal experiences to help others is incredible and as the national lead of the Women’s Group for PFEW, I am very proud of what she has achieved; she is a truly worthy winner of this award.”
C/Inspector Sharon Baker commented: “When I recorded my video back in December, I could never have imagined the impact sharing my story could have. I have been blown away by the amount of emails, phone calls and messages I have received from people not just from within the force but also other police forces, members of the public and partner organisations. I created the video in the hope that my story would resonate with someone, somewhere and would have the power to make them stop and think about their situation and, hopefully, push them to find help as soon as possible.
“I’m honoured to have been awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Women in Policing Award and I’m delighted the work we are doing to tackle these hideous crimes is being recognised on a national platform. I am committed to tackling domestic abuse in all its shapes and forms and hope I have, in some small way, given a voice to those who have felt unable to speak out”.
The Police Federation of England and Wale’s Annual Conference is a flagship event in the policing calendar, attracting speakers and delegates from the UK and overseas, bringing together practitioners, policy decision-makers and key policing stakeholders. Guests in attendance included the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC), College of Policing (CoP), Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Service (HMICFRS).
Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: “I can not think of a more deserving recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Women in Policing Award than Sharon.
“I can’t begin to imagine how challenging it must have been for Sharon to sit in front of the camera and talk about such a life-changing and traumatic experience. And she did this out of the completely selfless hope that she could empower someone else to talk out and break the cycle of abuse.
“When concern for victims of domestic abuse was at its peak due to lockdown restrictions, I can only hope that Sharon’s message was able to find those most in need and helped them to find their voice.
“Sharon is humble, modest and relatable and she has used her position to empower many people within and outside the organisation to start a conversation around domestic abuse and the awful consequences it can have on someone’s life. Sharon is a survivor and thanks to her bravery and courage she will remind other survivors of domestic abuse that they are not alone. Congratulations on behalf of everyone at Avon and Somerset Police”.