High Peak police inspector talks about her role as part of recruitment campaign

A High Peak police inspector has spoken about her role with the force as part of a recruitment campaign.

By Will Grimond, Data Reporter, and Alana Roberts
Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 8:43 am

Force Inspector Anna Woodhouse, who was raised in Chapel-en-le-Frith, looks after a team of around 80 staff that cover the High Peak area.

Her 20-year career in the force has seen her deal with everything from supporting the families of murder victims to helping save the town of Whaley Bridge during the Toddbrook Reservoir crisis.

She said: “My two boys are both really proud that I am a police officer, but that’s not to say that it’s always been easy.

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Force Inspector Anna Woodhouse, who was raised in Chapel-en-le-Frith, and looks after a team of around 80 staff that cover the High Peak area.

“I have a fantastic husband and I live close to my family who also help.

“Sometimes it is hard though – you end up doing the school run off a night shift, or you might miss certain things because of shifts – but the satisfaction out of the job is enormous.”

In her current role Anna deals with many key partners, like the fire service and various councils across the High Peak and makes key strategic decisions for how the policing of the area is carried out. But as a beat officer her role was even more diverse.

“My first shift saw me deal with a downed tree across the road at the start – and by the end we were dealing a chap who had been kidnapped and really badly beaten in Manchester and then dumped across the border in our county,” she added.

“Any role, but particularly in those first two years as a response officer responding to those immediate 999 calls, is hugely varied. You never have any idea what you will be doing next and that is hugely exciting.

“And that is before you then start to look at the vast array of different roles that are available in the force and the sky really is the limit.

“But for me, any of the roles really come back to two key points – that variety that I mentioned but more than that it’s helping people.

“You can literally be the difference between life and death in a situation and when it all goes well it’s like nothing else.”

Inspector Woodhouse’s story comes as new figures show that half of recently hired police officers in Derbyshire are women.

Data from the Home Office shows that female recruits made up 50 per cent of the 264 police officers hired by Derbyshire Constabulary between April 2020 – when gender breakdowns of new officers were first recorded nationally – and March this year.

This put Derbyshire among just three forces where women made up at least half of new officers.

This is also higher than across England and Wales as a whole, where 42 per cent of new police recruits were female.

The Government, as part of a 2019 manifesto pledge, promised an uplift of 20,000 new police officers by March 2023 – alongside a campaign to improve gender and ethnic diversity in the force.

But, while the ratio of female to male police officers at Derbyshire Constabulary has risen from 34 per cent in March 2019 to 38 per cent this year, critics argue the uplift has not gone far enough to make police forces representative of their communities.

Jemima Olchawski, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, a charity campaigning for gender equality, said: “These stats represent some welcome progress but to get to equality we need more women entering the force – and that means recognising there is a real problem with sexism and taking meaningful action to stamp it out.”

Women made up at least half of new recruits in just three forces – Lancashire, Great Manchester, and Derbyshire.

By contrast, Wiltshire Police recruited the fewest female officers, at just 33 per cent.

The figures are a headcount of the number of people hired – female officers are also more likely to work part-time, meaning that the number of female police officers on the streets is likely to be lower than these numbers suggest.

Separate snapshot data from the Government’s Gender Pay Gap Service shows that across all jobs at Derbyshire Constabulary, women were earning 24 per cent less than their male counterparts as of March 31 2021 – the latest figures available.

Rick Muir, director of the Police Foundation, a policing think tank, said: “The number of female police officers has gradually been increasing over the past two decades, but there’s still a long way to go.”

Speaking about the uplift, he said the Government has focused on “quantity over composition” in order to hit its manifesto target – not giving enough focus on the diversity of new recruits to the police force.

Mr Muir added that it is too early to tell whether recent policing scandals, and declining trust in police forces, will put a dent in the number of women signing up.

A total of 13,576 extra officers have joined police ranks across England and Wales since November 2019, including 158 in Derbyshire.

A spokesperson for the Home Office called it a “once in a generation opportunity to make the police more representative of the community they serve”.

They continued: “The police officer workforce is more diverse than it has ever been. However, we are aware that there is more work to be done, which is why the Government continues to work closely with police forces to ensure their workforces are representative.”

For information on Derbyshire Constabulary recruitment see https://careers.derbyshire.police.uk/.