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Embracing equity this International Women’s Day

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day, this year leading with the theme #EmbraceEquity

Equity, which refers to fairness and justice, reminds us of our organisational value of inclusion. Whereas equality means providing the same to all, equity means recognising that we do not all start from the same place and must acknowledge and make adjustments to prevent an imbalance.

Here we feature a small selection of the many women within our organisation who are out there, embracing equity, making a difference, and achieving great things every day.

“Being a DC is one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had the pleasure of doing, it teaches me how to be strong and resilient.”

“My name is Hira Hanif and I am a Detective Constable.

Before joining the police, I worked as an advocate and studied part-time to get my barristers’ qualification. I would travel the country and represent clients with dementia against the NHS. My sole job was to advocate and obtain funding for their care home fees.

I joined Avon and Somerset in 2021 during the pandemic, which I might add wasn’t the easiest as alongside most of the country, I was thoroughly fed up.  I came across this job on LinkedIn and thought ‘this looks interesting and it might keep me on toes!’ Needless to say, it does. I had to jump through a lot of hoops, such as several assessment centres, training academy, multiple exams, as well as doing a two year degree alongside of it. I think a part of me always thought ‘am I good enough for this?’ or ‘will I be accepted for who I am?’ but that feeling soon faded.

I have been in CID since September 2021, and I can honestly say I absolutely love what I do. I know some might think that’s such a cliché, but if you spent a day in my life, you’d think the same.

I deal with complex and serious crimes – from assault GBH level to attempted murders. My day varies greatly. One day I could be attending and managing a crime scene, the next I could be in the office working behind the scenes. There are days when I wonder ‘what did I get myself into?’ but after seeing a successful court result, it makes it all worth it.

Being a DC is one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had the pleasure of doing, it teaches me how to be strong and resilient.”

“I’m proud to be part of the police family, and I’m grateful for the challenges and opportunities it’s given me.”

My name is Helen Du Heaume. I joined the police more than 20 years ago. I chose the police as a career as I’m dyslexic and I felt a more practical hands-on job would suit me.

I started my police career as a front-line officer, qualifying as a detective after a few years working on investigating major crimes.

After a number of years dealing with crown court cases, I felt like a needed a new challenge and applied for a role on the Mounted Section. I have now been on the section for 11 years and since joining I have worked my way through the national mounted exams and passed part one of my sergeants exam. I am now an advanced level rider, riding instructor, PSU Commander and assessor, travelling to other mounted sections and assessing mounted officers.

My role does involve a lot of paperwork but the force has supported me by providing computer software specifically designed to help people with dyslexia, which I find very beneficial.

I work just under full-time hours on the section which enables me to balance my life outside work where I am a mum to two small children, and I ride my own horses competitively.

I’m proud to be part of the police family, and I’m grateful for the challenges and opportunities it’s given me.

“Ever since I was a really young girl, I wanted two things more than anything else in life – to be a police officer, and to win an Olympic medal.

Jo Hayward-Melen is an Inspector at Avon and Somerset, currently overseeing the mounted, dogs and dive unit, collectively known as OST.

My journey in judo started at age seven. From there, my career took me all over the world competing for both Wales and Great Britain on an international stage. I’ll always remember one occasion leaving from the Welsh Institute of Sport in Cardiff and heading across the channel – it was only after two days of travel that I asked my coach where we were going. Belarus was his reply.

As my career developed and I experienced more and more success, representation at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games was on the horizon. Sadly, a potentially career-ending knee injury the year before the games ended that dream, being told that I would likely never compete again. For three years I underwent complex knee surgery and had to set a new goal – a medal at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games.

It was also during this time that my career in policing began, as a PTI and civilian officer safety trainer with South Wales Police. Becoming a PTI was the perfect opportunity as it allowed me to use my fitness and judo skills in a different arena. South Wales Police also supported me by enabling me to take a career break in the lead up to the Manchester Games.

I won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester and although it’s not the Olympic medal that I longed for so much, over time, I’ve come to accept that had I not had my injury, and started working for South Wales Police, I may never have gone on to pursue a career in policing.

So now, long after my competitive career is over, I am still able to use many of my experiences as an athlete within policing. One of the questions I get asked a lot is “have you ever had to use your judo out on the streets?” Thankfully, although there have been a few occasions where my judo has come in handy, more than anything, my experiences as an athlete have always been a great conversation starter and have helped to de-escalate volatile situations. I think that martial arts certainly give you far greater confidence to talk to people and resolve situations without having to use force.

The theme of International Women’s Day 2023 is ‘Embrace Equity’ and that’s something I can relate to in judo. Although I turn fifty next year, I still train and fight just as hard as I did, with both women and men. Policing has also given me a great deal too that I can now take into judo. I sit on the Board of Directors for Welsh Judo and the skills I have gained through policing certainly help me to direct the strategic direction for future young athletes within the sport. Who knows, perhaps one of them will one day win an Olympic medal. I very much hope that’s the case.”