Women a growing force in police ranks

TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 05:00, January 20 2015

Seue Schwalger

ON THE BEAT: Superintendent Sue Schwalger, who headed the high-profile Scott Guy murder inquiry, is now Central District commander.
DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ
ON THE BEAT: Superintendent Sue Schwalger, who headed the high-profile Scott Guy murder inquiry, is now Central District commander.

Women are battling to get a foothold in the most senior echelons of police – but their growing numbers in the ranks show they are game for the challenge.

When women first joined the police in 1941 they were recruited through advertisements for “single and widowed ladies”, wore hats and gloves and carried handbags.

Now women account for 18.5 per cent of about 9000 officers nationwide. Five of them have reached the rank of superintendent.

In a first for the Royal New Zealand Police College, half of its 40 recruits accepted into the 2015 intake this month are women.

But it’s the small symbols – like the sight of Wellington’s area commander, Inspector Chris Scahill, looking after babies and plugging dummies in the police gym so his officers can train to rejoin police after maternity leave – that signal a real culture change, says women’s development strategic adviser acting Inspector Kelly Ryan.

“The organisation is now starting to acknowledge the importance of good leadership and of longevity,” she said. “Our men are supportive – they want women in police.”

She is a figure in the Women’s Advisory Network, launched by Commissioner Mike Bush in April last year. Part of its focus would be improving flexible employment arrangements for police with families, and working with senior officers to address “unconscious bias”, not only in who they promote, but how they dealt with the public, Ryan said.

The push for diversity came after Dame Margaret Bazley’s damning 2007 commission of inquiry found women were under-represented at senior levels, and that there was a culture of nepotism and discrimination.

Police have since ensured more than 10 per cent of commissioned officers – those ranked above senior sergeant – are women.

The police annual report for 2013-14 shows women are being promoted to inspector or higher at the target pace – accounting for 29 of 257 at that rank. But it also notes women’s representation in the most senior jobs does not yet reflect their proportion in police.

In 2012, Superintendent Sandra Manderson, who will be overseeing Cricket World Cup security, was the only female superintendent, and the only woman among the top 52 jobs in police. Now four others have joined her.

Superintendent Sue Schwalger, who headed the high-profile Scott Guy murder inquiry, is now Central District commander.

Her promotion was followed by that of Superintendent Sandra Venables, Eastern District commander, and Superintendent Tusha Penny, national prevention manager.

Superintendent Karyn Malthus, who headed the “Roast Busters” inquiry into claims of two young Auckland men boasting about sex with drunk and underage girls online, has just been appointed Tasman District commander.

– The Dominion Post

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Article - Newspapers, Employment, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s