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Celebrating women in policing 2015

Detective Chief Inspector Leanne Pook

Leanne is the force and South West regional lead for Female Genital Mutilation.

My career highlights

  • Despite working very hard in my job, I try hard to fulfil my other roles outside of work - I am the very best daughter, mother, wife, sister, auntie and friend that I can be, even though there are times when work pressure can make that really difficult.
  • Once, when I was a Detective Sergeant I was working alone late one Friday evening when I came across a Child Protection referral that had been filed for no further action. The concerns about the three year old child had been put down to non-criminal causes and filed as such. A 'sixth sense' kicked in and I decided that this wasn't the right decision. I arranged for local officers to attend the child's address immediately while I made my way there. We had to force entry and found the child unconscious inside. She had been the subject of a horrendous deliberately inflicted burn and this had resulted in septicaemia. At the hospital the consultant advised that left untreated she would have died within twelve hours and that my intervention had saved her life. The little girl's mum's partner was later sentenced to nine years.
Detective Chief Inspector Leanne Pook
  • In October 2014, I was nominated by the Integrate Bristol youth charity for a VOSCUR award for my efforts to combat female genital mutilation. Included in the nomination were the lines: "There are girls in Bristol who have been saved from FGM because of Leanne's fierce and tireless dedication to safeguarding children from its humiliating and lifelong debilitating effects". When I read those words, it was quite honestly the proudest moment of my entire service. I went on to win the award itself and while I was very humbled to receive it, the highlight for me though remains the nomination itself.

What International Women's Day means to me

It offers a real opportunity to celebrate the really significant achievements of women globally and to openly demonstrate support and solidarity for women living in oppressive regimes. While equality of the sexes has yet to be achieved anywhere, I still wake up every morning thankful for the opportunities that my daughters and I are lucky enough to have.

My inspirational female

Women who have shown immense courage at great personal risk like Irena Sendler, Rosa Parks, Malala Yousafzai. Writers like Alice Walker and Maya Angelou who have shared women's experiences on record to combat the ever present nay sayers.

On a more personal level, I am constantly inspired by the women with whom I am lucky enough to work in our efforts to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation. My FDL within the constabulary and across voluntary and statutory partnerships know who they are and how much I value their support and expertise in this work.

If I was told however, that I was limited to one choice, it would without question be my mum, every time and for a lifetime of reasons.

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

I am most proud because of the people I get to work with. I believe the constabulary is made up of people who come to work and give well in excess of 100% every day. This is often in the most difficult and distressing of circumstances and dealing with people in their most challenging states. Despite huge and ever increasing pressure, I am still constantly impressed by what our people do and how well they do it.

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Assistant Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe

Louisa joined the constabulary in 1991 and worked her way up the ranks in uniform and CID roles, becoming Assistant Chief Constable in 2013. Louisa is the ACPO lead for Domestic Abuse.

My career highlights

  • Arresting two notorious burglars in Lawrence Weston which earned me a place of the Southmead District Crime Unit in 1995.
  • Getting the job of Head of CID despite being told I was "too girly to apply" by my predecessor. Nothing was going to motivate me more to move us on from any remnants of 'Life on Mars'.
  • Passing the infamous Senior Police National Assessment Centre (PNAC) which opened the door to becoming an Assistant Chief Constable. Research shows that women are less likely to apply and often apply later in service than men, but are often better qualified and more likely to pass.

What does International Women's Day mean to me?

A brilliant opportunity to raise awareness of inequality and to challenge our approach to gender related crime like domestic abuse. I know men are victims too but, in the great majority of cases, women are victims and they remain victims because of gender prejudice in society.

Assistant Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe

It's also a great opportunity to celebrate how far we have come. In 1991 when I joined I wasn't allowed to wear trousers except on night shifts yet on nights I was confined to the station office! My sergeant said he'd worry about girls if we were out after dark! At my first PDR I was told to apply for the Family and Child Protection Unit.

My inspirational female

I'm inspired by women every day. In particular those that have grappled with inequality and proven we can take on anything but still find the time to help other women. A few notable examples;

Diana Barran, the phenomenally successful Chief Executive of SafeLives (previously Coordinated Action Against Domestic Abuse), a former city banker and hedge fund manager who is always so positive, supportive and constructive when working with the police.

Helen Ball, Livvy Pinkney, Lynne Owens, Sara Thornton - super successful & powerful senior police women who are always humble, caring and supportive of other women.

Our own women firearms officers who are too few in number, yet do a great job of being impressively competent but feminine in one of the most demanding areas of policing. Having joined them at their recent event to attract more women in to firearms I was so impressed.

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

We have a great track record of supporting and promoting women in policing, started by Julie Spence one of the founder members of the British Association of Women in Policing. When I visit other forces I'm always reminded of how ahead we are with more women in senior ranks than many other forces and men who see this as a positive thing. Despite my examples of the early 90s above I have always felt that I work in an organisation that cherishes equality and strives to develop and support its women.

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Maliha Berridge, Honour Based Violence, Forced Marriages, FGM & Safe Guarding Specialist

Maliha works with victims of crime, particularly forced marriage, domestic abuse and honour based violence, advising local and senior officers, external forces, the Foreign Office, UK Borders and Immigration and many others.

My career highlights

  • Being offered a place on Avon and Somerset Constabulary's Youth Training Scheme, in 1984. I was so proud to be selected to be a part of the organisation. I was the first Asian Muslim woman to be employed and it was a bold step for me at just 15 years old. Many in my community were against it - but now I'm very much respected - times have changed for the better.
  • I was invited to go on 'This Morning' where I met Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby and spoke about my work around Honour Based Violence and Forced Marriages. I've always been an avid fan of Philip Schofield and couldn't believe how down to earth and genuine they both were.
  • I guarded the Royal Yacht Britannia when the Queen and Prince Phillip visited our area. I spent two days in the pouring rain in full uniform. After, I received an invitation to have tea followed by a guided tour by a member of the Royal Marines, who also presented me with a rare badge.
Maliha Berridge

What International Women's Day means to me

It's a fantastic way of recognising and appreciating what women have achieved. I believe it's very important that women and their achievements are acknowledged, as we're shaping the future generations of women. My favourite quote by Brigham Young, "if you educate a man, you educate a man. Educate a woman, you educate a generation."

My inspirational female

My mother. She has always been very dedicated to help those in need, she never turns anyone away, and will always give her time no matter how busy or tired she is. I have without doubt got my skills from her.

Another is a lady called Kiran Bedi. She was the first Indian women to join the Indian Police Force and rose to the rank of Director General of Police. She is known as the supercop of Delhi.

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

It's a brilliant place to work. We continually try to make improvements to enhance the service we give to the public. Everyone here works extremely hard to make our communities a safe place to be in.

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Kelly MacBryde, Special Inspector

Kelly works as an Exams Officer at a local college but spends her spare time as a Special Inspector for Avon and Somerset Constabulary.

My career highlights

  • Joining Avon and Somerset Constabulary nine years ago - I've experienced so many situations which are a world away from my day job as an Exams Officer in a college. It's not all about arresting people, there is so much more to it and sometimes helping someone can give you the biggest reward. Reuniting a parent with a missing child or working with other emergency services to help an injured person is just as rewarding as keeping the peace on a busy Friday night.
  • An incident which I was proud to be able to help in was when we, as a group of specials, were able to secure the scene of a serious assault and administer first aid to the badly injured victim. Because of our fast response, we not only managed to contribute towards saving the victim's life but also allowed other officers to gather evidence and secure the conviction of the offender.
  • Alongside "normal" police duties, as a Special Inspector, I also manage other specials and carryout administrative duties. I'm well versed in taking control and being confident when working with the public or dealing with pub fights or domestics but I think my bravest moment was actually giving a speech to the Chief Constable and the PCC at the annual Rewards & Recognition event, I've never been so nervous!
Kelly MacBryde

What International Women's Day means to me

I've never experienced discrimination in my role because of my gender (apart from conducting searches!). I hope that International Women's Day can encourage women from all backgrounds not to let anyone hold them back from anything. It's also an opportunity to reflect on the gender inequalities that affect women across the world and take a stance against injustice.

My inspirational female

It's so difficult to pick just one person. So many women have made a massive contribution to society, education, science etc. I think people who carry on fighting for what they believe in the face of opposition but who aren't always in the media spotlight are sometimes the most inspirational. From those who want the right to fight on the frontline to the women in Saudi Arabia who just want to be able to drive and be treated as equals. They are all showing resilience in the face of inequality.

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

Putting my uniform on makes me very aware of how the general public perceive the police. Some people do have a negative view so I hope that in my time I've been able to change perceptions. Just having someone put their trust in you or say "Thank you" when you've helped them makes me feel proud and privileged to be able to wear that uniform.

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Superintendent Rachel Williams

My career highlights

  • Starting my career in Gloucestershire Constabulary I was fortunate to have worked in local and rural policing, priority crime, major crime and counter terrorism. I was also the 'on course' SIO for Cheltenham Races which was a challenge and a privilege at the same time!
  • Since moving to Avon and Somerset I've been the SIO for a number of serious and major crime investigations and have also been fortunate enough to be the head of Public Protection, now Protect working to safeguard and protect the most vulnerable members of the local community.
  • My funniest career highlight was being on uniformed patrol with a colleague and stop-checking two young lads on bikes without lights in a housing estate in the middle of the night. Having stopped them we checked over their bikes and I quickly realised that one of them was actually riding my bike which he had stolen (without me realising!) earlier in the day...unlucky!
Superintendent Rachel Williams

What International Women's Day means to me

It's an opportunity for the achievements of women in a wide variety of roles to be highlighted and celebrated. I recently read an article from the Times in 1916 that talked about a female detective being appointed in Bristol and that was met with a disapproving tone by others in authority! Whilst there has been significant progress since 1916, there is a need to ensure that challenging inequality in all areas remains a priority for us all.

My inspirational female

Amelia Earheart - the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic ocean in 1932. She typified a spirt of adventure and bravery and succeeded despite the odds.

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

It's our people who make the Force special. There is a great team spirit evident across the organisation and this along with strong leadership makes me proud every day of what we achieve for all the communities who live work and visit the Avon and Somerset area.

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Becky Tipper, Call Handling Manager

Becky manages the teams that take 101 and 999 calls from the public.

My career highlights

  • Joining Avon and Somerset Constabulary in September 2001 as a call handler. I loved the role and was proud knowing that I, along with the rest of the team make a difference - saving and changing lives.
  • I've worked my way up in the department - taking on nearly every role there is and this summer I'll be Communications Centre Manager - managing a newly formed department.
  • Another highlight is my contribution to tackle domestic abuse - I play a small part, but by joining up the dots and asking the right questions we can make sure victims are identified and provided with the guidance and support they need at first point of contact.

What International Women's Day means to me

I am proud to celebrate the achievements of women and feel privileged to represent the force for this event. There are so many remarkable, inspiring women that walk amongst us every day who often go unrecognised and International Women's Day provides a glimpse across the world of these women 'making it happen'.

Becky Tipper

My inspirational female

My Grandma. I lost my mum when I was 9 years old; she was only 34. My Grandma taught me that life is for living and that a mother's heart is always with her children; Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets. She's 94 next month but you'd never know it - she's still travelling the world, goes body boarding and drives the 'oldies' to keep fit classes!

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

I am extremely proud to work here; playing a part in keeping people safe makes everything worthwhile.

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Natalie Steadman, Head of Integrated Victim Care

Leading our Integrated Victim Care department, Natalie has pioneered a new victim care approach in Avon and Somerset.

My career highlights

  • After completing two degrees and volunteering for youth and women's rights projects as part of my studies, I joined Avon and Somerset Constabulary in 2007 as an Anti-social Behaviour Officer. I then went on to become Safeguarding Manager for Bristol, where I negotiated the co-location of domestic abuse advisors (IDVAs) into the unit and worked with CAADA to improve the quality of MARACs nationally.
  • In 2013 I was asked to act as an Inspector for Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and took part in the national domestic abuse inspections.
  • In January 2014 I was selected to lead the Integrated Victim Care programme where I led the design and implementation of a pioneering victim care approach - now called Lighthouse Victim and Witness Care. We provide vulnerable victims with an enhanced level of support from police, criminal justice agencies and specialist support providers.
Natalie Steadman

What International Women's Day means to me

International Women's Day is an opportunity to celebrate successful and inspiring women worldwide, whilst also highlighting the need for greater gender equality. Violence against women and girls is still a significant issue affecting women from all over the world, and this day gives us an opportunity to discuss the issue and call for an end to its social acceptance.

My inspirational female

I am inspired by women who work in hard and challenging careers, but still manage to have a family, hobbies and a social life. There are a number of senior leaders in this organisation, who I won't embarrass by naming, who have highly pressured jobs yet they will always make time for me, have a friendly or reassuring word when I need one. They are also mothers, wives and friends. I aspire to be like them on a daily basis.

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

I am proud to work in an organisation where everyone shares the same vision: to deliver a human and empathetic service to victims of crime and ASB.

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PCSO Sue Surridge

My career highlights

  • Becoming a Prison Officer at Ashfield Young Offenders and supporting young people.
  • Working within the child care system - working in a care home with children, who, through no fault of their own had come into care. I worked with young people who had issues with eating disorders and self-harm.
  • Joining Avon and Somerset as a PCSO starting in March 2005.

What International Women's Day means to me

Recognising all the women out there who inspire others to strive in achieving their goals.

My inspirational female

My mum. She has brought up four children in relatively tough times and she is my turn to person no matter what the issue is she never judges or criticises, she just gives support and assistance no matter what.

PCSO Sue Surridge

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

I became a PCSO to assist people within the community and to work as part of a team in achieving a better and safer place for those people in my community to live in, without fear of crime or threat.

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Detective Chief Inspector Marie Wright

My career highlights

  • An undercover drugs job in St Pauls, where I had to be a drug addict buying heroin. Eight people were convicted from the marked money that I had used with others to buy drugs. I had to wear a wire and got locked in the drugs den which was a bit scary!
  • Identifying an offender for a violent stranger rape in Bristol, who had committed a further undetected sexual offence in 2009 in Somerset. Working closely with CSI, we used ground breaking DNA techniques.
  • Watching my staff flourish through the ranks of the organisation after mentoring and coaching them through their service.

What International Women's Day means to me

For me, it's about recognising that women are equal to men and there are inspirational women all over the world - many working under the radar doing great things for communities, science and business, risking their lives every day just doing the right thing.

Detective Chief Inspector Marie Wright

My inspirational female

Princess Diana - she used her skills as a woman to raise awareness and help charities and organisations across the world.

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

I've been an officer for 25 years and have always been proud to work here, giving my best every day to protect the vulnerable, detect crime, prosecute offenders as that is why I joined up all that time ago.

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Superintendent Carolyn Belafonte

Carolyn joined the police in 1990 as one of only two girls on her team.

My career highlights

  • Being selected to work in SOCA to improve the intelligence flow in the confidential arenas for ACPO forces. I look back now and realise that being a Detective Inspector in that role, able to make a difference, at that time, in that environment was a significant highlight, as was being the first female Detective Inspector of the surveillance team in 2006. I have always wanted to prove women can achieve in roles previously very male orientated.
  • Helping others, who display the right qualities, develop and get on in the organisation doing what they have the potential to do.
  • Working with motivated hard working people that care and have made a difference to our service, the public over the years and in different departments.

What International Women's Day means to me

Recognising the efforts of truly inspirational people that have changed the world, society and even the workplace for the better.

Superintendent Carolyn Belafonte

My inspirational female

Rosa Parks - she stood up for what was right and what was wrong.

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

Being a police officer is great, it feels tricky at the moment, but Avon and Somerset has done some truly great things and I want to stick through the trickiness to prove how resilient we are, and better for it.

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Sophie Dingley, Criminal Justice Support Unit Manager

My career highlights

  • Becoming one of the first case builders in the force - a role that was being piloted in conjunction with the roll out of NSPIS Case Prep. It was great helping officers build their files for court, whilst helping develop a new role.
  • I became a Criminal Justice Support Officer a couple of years later and became a temp manager of the unit in 2010. As I come to the end of this role, I look back at the last four and a half years with pride and a sense of achievement. We are a small but effective team, and I couldn't have asked for a better bunch of people to help me.
  • Improving file quality across the force. It is great to devise a plan, see it implemented and actually see something improve, especially when it is something that has a real impact on the service we provide to victims. To be honest though, I get the most satisfaction out of the smaller moments, like when a colleague comes and asks for my advice, and I can help.
Sophie Dingley

What International Women's Day means to me

Most women just get on and do their job, not looking for recognition or applause. This day is a chance for those women to be recognised and thanked and to inspire other women that you don't have to be the loudest in the room to be successful.

My inspirational female

My mum who along with my dad made sure I had every opportunity to be who I wanted to be, my own boss, who is incredibly supportive of me and whose opinion I greatly respect.

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

The resilience and commitment of our staff and the way we adapt to change. We always say that no one likes change, which is probably true, but despite the huge amount of it, we continue to provide a high quality of service, especially to those who need it most.

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Chief Superintendent Sarah Crew

Sarah has twenty years' experience in both uniformed policing and CID. She's managed Bristol CID, has been District Commander of South Gloucestershire and headed up the constabulary's change programme - focusing on our Operating Model.

My career highlights

  • Opening of The Bridge Sexual Assault Referral Centre - this took several years planning, influencing, business-case writing, idea-pitching and negotiating - but it has been worth every minute spent to have been part in bringing to a reality such a fantastic service for people when they need it most.
  • The establishment of the Safe Link Independent Sexual Violence Advisor service and keeping the funding in place for three years through general haggling, nagging and harassing until the PCC very astutely rode into the rescue to secure its future. Like The Bridge, the ISVAs make a huge difference to people and their families and friends. The effect they have is humbling. Just spending five minutes in the company of an ISVA will restore your faith in the human nature and put you in awe.
  • What I call the 'Bluestone' approach to investigating what is often the most challenging crime type to investigate - rape. Open-minded, offender-focused but victim-led, creative and innovative and embracing true team work across a range of partners whether that is The Bridge, Safe Link or the CPS.
Chief Superintendent Sarah Crew
  • I'm very proud of the work that my team has done in reshaping the constabulary's operating model. In three years' time we will be weathering the financial challenges we face and still delivering a great service to the public.

My inspirational female

The Russian poet Anna Akhmatova - for staying true to her beliefs and enduring through the Soviet Period when she could have gone into exile.

What International Women's Day means to me

In 2009 I was invited to give a five minute speech at the Trinity Centre in Bristol to a large audience of women who had marched through the city that night. I was the only police officer amongst a very lively crowd. I followed a number of speakers who openly criticised the way violence against women was dealt with by the police and other law enforcement partners. By the time I came on stage, the crowd was pretty hostile. In the moment, my prepared speech went out the window and I spoke from the heart on the absolute intent and endeavour we have to do the very best for victims and to prosecute those who make them so. I made a pledge then and there that I would personally vouch to make a difference to the way sexual violence is handled by the constabulary. They gave me a clap but they also said that they would hold me to it. I'm hoping 1 to 3 above has made some kind of start.

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

I'm proud to serve the community where I grew up and where I live. I'm proud of the things we achieve - not just the acts of courage or the great investigations or the performance outcomes - but the innovation and creativity that converts good ideas and an evidence-based approach into initiatives that truly make a difference to people's lives.

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Detective Chief Inspector Tina Robinson

My career highlights

  • Joining the police when the Bleep Test was Level 11 in 1994. I've been running ever since. I started out at Weston-super-Mare police station where the variety of work was a great experience and the teamwork was brilliant. I remember when you had to step up into the CID office and knock! There were no women in CID unless they needed women for the warrants! (This was all done in good spirit).
  • Getting promoted to Detective Inspector in January 2012. I've had the pleasure in being the SIO for some really challenging and interesting investigations. I got to go to Kenya for a Child Abuse investigation with a fantastic team from CEOP and Protect. It made us all realise how lucky we are and how much we can offer our families. None of us will ever forget a little boy called Lucky who we all wanted to bring home in our suitcase. I've also become involved with a charitable organisation called Ablaze and have had the opportunity to talk to 13,14 and 15 year old girls where I offer career advice and share some life experience which really is rewarding.
Detective Chief Inspector Tina Robinson
  • Getting promoted to Sergeant in January 2003 on a response team in Bristol. Unusually we had an almost 50/50 male to female ratio. There were some shifts where the team was all women. The comments we'd get were inoffensively hilarious. It was like Charlie's Angels.

What International Women's Day means to me

I'm ashamed to say that I've never really paid much attention to International Women's Day. I like to think that we are a long way forward in terms of equality. More flexibility in the workplace has made it easier for everyone to juggle work and family life.

My inspirational female

My sister-in-law, Andrea. She answered the phone 15 years ago to hear the news that her husband had fallen off a roof at work and it was touch and go if he would survive. Whilst working, looking after two young daughters and helping Martin through painful and lengthy physiotherapy the family had to cope with major adjustments in their life and adapt their home to cater for Martin's wheelchair. There's never a moan. Now there's a "can do" woman.

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

I've had the pleasure of working with some brilliant police officers and staff whose daily commitment and professionalism are a credit to the organisation. I am extremely grateful to everyone who comes to work to do the right thing. There are daily personal sacrifices but despite all of the challenges there is still fun, laughter and some great cake baking!

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Chief Superintendent Caroline Peters

Caroline joined the Metropolitan Police Service in 1987 transferring to Avon and Somerset in 2003. She has been lead for Child Protection and Public Protection, and Head of Operations and is currently Area Commander for the North East.

My career highlights

  • The investigation and conviction of an IRA cell who were jailed for 62 years following the then biggest surveillance operation on mainland Britain. We prevented a large scale attack on London, recovering over six tonnes of home-made explosive.
  • Working within the field of Child Protection - it really felt like I made a personal difference and felt privileged to work with some outstanding, dedicated colleagues and partners.
  • Performing the role of Gold Commander for the Somerset Flooding event in 2014. The longest civil emergency on record.

What International Women's Day means to me

For me, it's a special day to celebrate women's achievements and successes; to talk about collective interests but also remind ourselves of the continuing struggles many women suffer nationally and internationally. It is also about those who have inspired and supported me, thanks mum!

Chief Superintendent Caroline Peters

My inspirational female

Mo Mowlem - I only met her once but she made such an impression on me. At the time she was the Secretary of State for NI and working towards the Good Friday Peace Agreement in 1998. It was a huge political undertaking but she had a real presence and was respected for her no-nonsense approach; she was intelligent, plain speaking, committed and all with great charisma and humour.

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

Simply because there are so many individuals who are committed to providing the best service they can for the public and for each other. I am reminded every day of individual achievements; bravery, innovation, friendship, selflessness - just doing the best job they can.

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Detective Constable Ayesha Giles

Ayesha joined Avon and Somerset Constabulary in 2004 after completing my psychology degree. She has recently been promoted to detective sergeant in Bristol managing investigations into rape, child abuse and domestic abuse.

My career highlights

  • R v Lear - a historical rape against his three children in the 1970's. The defendant was convicted for 14 years.
  • Mentoring school pupils who are on the verge of criminality.
  • My promotion to detective sergeant - as I now manage some of our most risky offenders and vulnerable victims.

What International Women's Day means to me

It's an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the strong women we have around us and those worldwide who affect us personally. It's a chance to see how far we have come but how much more we need to do to ensure gender equality and close the gap in the workplace.

Detective Constable Ayesha Giles

My inspirational female

It's probably a cliché but it's my mum. She is the strongest women I know; she was the victim of significant domestic abuse at the hands of my biological father. However, she had the courage to leave, to protect me, to raise me to be empowered, proud of dual heritage and know I can achieve whatever I aspire to do just as she did.

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

I am proud to work for this organisation - we make a real difference to people's lives.

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Ann Leech, Force Registrar

Ann joined the force in 2001 as an administrator. Within two years, she took over the role of Registrar for the Chief Officer Group.

My career highlights

  • Participating in a CID Training exercise, role playing a suspect of drug dealing which involved trainee CID personnel being monitored on their arrest, interview procedures.
  • Operation Blue Glass - an exercise in 'hostage' taking - observed by many chief constables from across the UK. I helped with admin, logging incident updates and minute taking.
  • Operation Vulcanise in 2008. I received recognition for working a weekend at short to provide secretarial support to the Gold Commander and Staff Officer, minute taking at high profile meetings in the town where incident took place.

What International Women's Day means to me

It's a good way to provide recognition to women in all walks of life for their commitment to business, charities and community support.

Ann Leech

My inspirational female

Karen Brady - Former M.D. Birmingham City Football Club - at the age of 23 and responsible for company's floatation in 1997 thus becoming youngest M.D. in a British plc. To me she represents successful business woman, committed to her family, and still found time to write regular column in successful women's magazine.

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

I work in a happy team with a good work ethic and we support one another when we need to.

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Chief Superintendent Sue Scott

Sue joined Avon and Somerset Constabulary as cadet at 16 years old in 1983 before becoming an officer in 1985. She has worked her way up through the ranks and was promoted to Chief Superintendent of the new Prevention, Protection and Prosecution Department in 2014.

My career highlights

  • Being the Senior Investigating Officer on Operation Baron, following the shooting of Rico Gordon in St Paul's in 2011. It was a complex and difficult case that took me outside my comfort zone. It was a privilege to be part of such a fantastic and professional team who ultimately delivered justice to Anna, Rico's Mum.
  • Leading Operation Wanderer in 2013. The excelled work of the FIB Team identified over 60 potential vulnerable victims who may have been at risk of human trafficking. It was hugely satisfying to work with the Wanderer Team who all adopted such a victim focussed approach. I am extremely passionate about helping the victims of modern slavery and, although I have handed on the lead to the brilliant Supt Liz Tunks, I still remain committed, through my on-call SIO work and current PPP role, to building trust and confidence so potential victims to come to us so we can help keep them safe.
  • Mentoring female and male colleagues has been hugely rewarding in my career. I have seen a range of excellent women realise their potential and I have been really pleased to have played a small part in their success.
Ann Leech

What International Women's Day means to me

It's fantastic way of celebrating women's achievements and marking how far we've come with regards to inequality both socially, financially and in the work place. I'm really proud that I've been a wife, a mother and a police officer and have made it to Chief Superintendent.

I've been able to work part-time hours as a Superintendent to be there for my family. I think that's a really important message for other women. You can have a family and be a valuable resource in the work-place but it absolutely needs give and take on both sides. Ultimately though, we're here to provide a service to the public.

My inspirational female

There are many but first and foremost - my mother. Through her courage and selflessness she showed as she fought a terminal illness, she still managed, with my Dad, to support me, her grandchildren and other elderly relatives who needed care. Her support throughout my career was unstinting and unwavering.

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

I am extremely proud to be a police officer and be part of such a "can-do" team of people. It's a fantastic job, sometimes extremely challenging, difficult and at times frightening, but ultimately exceptionally rewarding. I work with people who care deeply about our local communities and are truly committed to providing the public a fantastic service often in the most difficult circumstances.

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Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Davenport

My career highlights

  • Moving to Somerset in 1996 after finishing my uniform probation in Bristol. Then, I thought I'd 'stepped back in time', rural policing was a shock! However, that move was possibly the best of my career. I had supportive managers that provided me with a greater variety of policing experiences.
  • 'Breaking' into the CID family as a part-time mother of two. As a patrol sergeant with a CID background, having been told that I was promoted too early, was not known well enough at HQ and was part time with young children would slow if not limit my career progression despite having demonstrated ability gave me inspiration to prove them wrong! We have moved a long way in the last 14 years to support women in policing and thankfully the perception I faced 14 years ago is the exception rather than the norm.
  • Leading and delivering ADAPT, the new custody and investigation model - to be a part of what change looks like, working with our staff to develop it and then delivering it was amazing.
Sarah Davenport

What International Women's Day means to me

Well, it's definitely NOT about women being advantaged because of gender or women being idolised because of ill-conceived perceptions. It is important that everyone, irrespective of gender is judged on individual strengths and abilities and that this approach is consistent across both genders.

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

I genuinely believe we are at the forefront of modern day policing - no one said it would be easy, but the resilience staff in this organisation show on a daily basis is commendable - who wouldn't be proud to work with this team?

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Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Watson

Nikki joined the constabulary in 1997 and has spent the majority of operational service in uniform. Nikki was temporarily promoted to Assistant Chief Constable for Local Policing seven months ago and is currently on the Strategic Command Course, returning to the force mid-March.

My career highlights

  • As superintendent I was the first female head of Roads Policing and Firearms where I worked hard to try and encourage more women to join Operations. Before I started, a friend told me she'd witnessed two male roads policing officers discussing the announcement of my posting "bet she can't even drive" - they may have had a point but luckily running the department didn't involve me getting behind the wheel of a car!
  • Being seconded to the HMIC and conducting an Inspection of the Metropolitan police following the MacPherson report for seven months which gave me an insight into the workings of a much larger force and also dispelled the mystery of HMIC.
  • Becoming Area Commander for Somerset - I got to work with such a talented group of capable staff absolutely committed to improving the lives of Somerset communities.
  • Performing the role of overall Silver Commander for the Olympic and Paralympic Sailing events at Weymouth Dorset. A policing operation with officers from over thirty forces on the scale of which I had not previously experienced.
Nikki Watson

What International Women's Day means to me

It's an opportunity to celebrate the contribution of women. Learning about the experiences of other women always enthuses me and gives me the confidence and energy to try something new.

My inspirational female

Inspirational women in the policing sense would be Cressida Dick. I heard her speaking recently and was bowled over. She is clearly an experienced officer who commands huge respect and exudes passion in respect of policing.

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

I'm proud because of the wonderful people I work with and the fantastic service we deliver to our communities. I am humbled on almost a daily basis by the stories of courage, resilience and real caring for the public in their times of need - provide by our staff.

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Detective Lisa Finch

Lisa joined the police in 1990 and has been a detective for 20 years, 11 years of which have been spent in Public Protection.

My career highlights

  • The past eleven years as a Detective in Public Protection. I get a real sense of satisfaction knowing that I make a difference by protecting the most vulnerable.
  • The case of the 'Boy called It' - a two year investigation into the horrific abuse a little boy suffered at the hands of his step dad. The step dad was sentenced to seven years for child cruelty and the mum also received a custodial sentence for knowingly allowing the abuse to happen.
  • Sharing my story about suffering a stress-related illness at work. Initially, it raised awareness internally in our organisation and helped colleagues either understand mental illness or support those who'd experienced the same. Since, I've been involved in a national radio and press campaign to try and reduce the stigma related to mental health. I have been nominated for the mental health hero award and have met the Deputy Prime Minister as a result. I'm now working with Mind and Time to Change to deliver a new programme to help support the mental health of staff and volunteers working in emergency services.
Detective Lisa Finch

What International Women's Day means to me

A celebration of women who have made a difference in all aspects of life. Not necessarily just about success in business

My inspirational female

Well known women would be Rosa Parks, Oprah Winfrey and JK Rowling. There are also many, many women in everyday life who inspire me. Just two of which - whose profiles are listed here are:

  • Leanne Pook: when I was off work unwell, she called me out of blue. She was not my boss and had no reason to get in touch other than that she cared, I've known Leanne for years and have seen her support so many people in the same way.
  • Caroline Peters: A well-respected officer, Caroline is down to earth, approachable and genuinely cares about her staff.

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

Because of the people who work here - hardworking, genuine and very kind they do a hard job; increasingly under extremely difficult circumstances.

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Sergeant Helen Riddell

Based in the Local Policing Directorate, Helen leads the Constabulary's LGBT Liaison Team.

My career highlights

  • Becoming a Family Liaison Officer and helping to respond to major international disasters such as the 9/11 and 7/7 bombings, the Boxing Day Tsunami and many more individual cases of tragic loss. I have been humbled by the strength and compassion of those families during their times of greatest distress.
  • Being part of the force LGBT liaison team - knowing that our efforts have made a real difference to victims of hate crimes and never allowing the force to take its eyes off this most personal and destructive type of crime.
  • Taking highland dancing lessons in order to attend the Ghyllies Ball. It was a surreal but amazing experience to dance with the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and their many guests in the castle.
Sergeant Helen Riddell

What International Women's Day means to me

It reminds me of the difficulties faced by and the achievements of women all over the world. It's important to me to keep that connection in my mind through all the work I do whether its related to domestic abuse, FGM, equality of housing provision, or refugee and immigration policy to name but a few. Keeping the pressure on from our position of comfort and safety in this country to try and improve families lives both here and abroad is a real concern of mine.

My inspirational female

I have met and admire so many. We should all support each other as women, by celebrating our successes and helping our colleagues wherever we can, putting aside personal ambition however compelling that can be for some at times.

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

I believe that the direction PCC Sue Mountstevens has taken is the right one, we are concentrating on vulnerability and are responding to the challenges it brings in a meaningful and practical way. Projects such as Lighthouse are delivering for those who need support the most in our society.

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Police Constable Allison Holvor

Allison joined Avon and Somerset Constabulary in 1987 and has chaired the constabulary's Black Police Association.

My career highlights

  • Joining Avon and Somerset Constabulary as a Special Constable in 1987 - working at Trinity Road Police Station and in 1991, I completed my training to become a full time officer.
  • When I was a beat officer in Southmead, I initiated the Alley Gater project - which saw the rear lanes of properties being secured for the use of residents.
  • I represented the force in the Stephen Lawrence enquiry where, as the Racial and Homophobic Liaison Officer, I gave evidence and highlighted the good practice being carried out in Avon and Somerset.
  • Chairing Avon and Somerset Black Police Association and always playing an active part in the recruitment and retention of black and ethnic minority staff.
Police Constable Allison Holvor

What International Women's Day means to me

It's an opportunity for everyone to recognise and celebrate the achievements of women from all over the world and promote the many awe inspiring women who made sacrifices to bring us to the present day.

My inspirational female

Me, my mum and all women who work in a predominantly male environment.

Why I'm proud to work for Avon and Somerset Constabulary

Because I am able to serve a diverse community and work alongside some very dedicated and committed staff members.

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