My career journey as Lincolnshire’s first female police chief officer

I’m a Lincolnshire girl – I was actually born in Chesterfield and moved here when I was about six, where I was educated at the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Alford before starting my police service in Grantham.

I don’t have a degree and at that time when I left school and began my career it didn’t really matter, and wasn’t out of the ordinary.

I started my ‘work life’ when I was 18 and got a job with the HMRC, which I quickly realised wasn’t the right one for me!

I was interested in something that gave back to the community and around 1985/1986 I became a Special Constable in Louth and Mablethorpe and just absolutely loved it.

It was obvious to me at that point that being a cop was really for me and I started on the path to becoming a regular officer.

I began in Grantham and was incredibly lucky because I had a really inspirational tutor there, I learned so much from her. She was fearless, bold, competent, and always very supportive.

It’s not even that she was ‘having’ to be like that because she was in a world that was then still male-dominated, it’s just the way she was. In fact, I’ve had several similar female role models over the years and each one has taught me something very different and incredibly valuable.

Through the course of my career with Lincolnshire Police I’ve had a number of roles. Most have been detective based and I’ve experienced CID at most levels.

I was one of the first Force Control Room Inspectors when we moved from five divisional control rooms to one, I’ve spent time in anti-corruption and professional standards, to name but a few, and each role has helped add to my learning and experience.

It’s been incredibly worthwhile to see all these different aspects to learn about the integral role operations and culture play in policing.

Oddly, I never had a career plan when I started out. I’ve always made my own choices but never set out with the intention of one day becoming the Deputy Chief Constable, or anything similar, I never set out to be anything other than a frontline cop.

As new roles and opportunities came up over the years I simply thought, ‘you know what, I think I can do that’ and went for it. Making those choices and having faith in myself really gave me confidence to grab these chances as they came up.

I think women bring different and valuable aspects to all jobs, no matter what world you work in. I’ve seen significant changes in policing over the last 30 years; more women are progressing and specialising and attitudes are different.

Generally, women are still under-represented but I think Lincolnshire Police recruits 50/50 and it’s a different career now to when I joined.

There is far more opportunity to be able to have a successful career and a family. I’ve got two young boys who are aged 11 and eight and having a strong family unit behind me has actually helped me in my working life.

There is pressure to be a super mum, a super wife, a super performer in your professional life, but it’s unrealistic.

You do the best you can every day and continue to learn, evolve and be interested. I couldn’t have done any of this without my ‘support crew’ both at home and in my professional life.

If I could offer any words of wisdom to any other women in their chosen profession they would be this – choose your role models well, don’t be under-confident because you may be different but that may be exactly what is needed – you don’t know until you try. If you fail, dust yourself off and learn from it.

And, above all else, take any and every opportunity and have trust and belief in yourself.