In 2021, The UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) implemented a 4- year project in seven of the eleven British Overseas Territories to enhance and develop leadership in the territories, and specifically to advance female leadership in policing in the British Overseas Territories (BOT). In 2022, RCIPS with the support of the FCDO and Cayman Islands Office of the Commissioner of Police (OCP) set up the our very own Women in Policing Network (WiPN).
In November 2022, FCDO invited RCIPS to attend a Professional Women Conference for women in policing in London, UK. RCIPS Deputy Chief Officer Ms. Nancy Barnard, Superintendent Wendy Parchment and Inspector Denise Anderson attended.
Following their attendance at the Conference, in January 2022, a Breakfast Briefing was held at TDU to discuss their experiences and give feedback. The Breakfast Briefing was held in the spirit of sharing knowledge to a wider group of people in the RCIPS, rather than keeping the knowledge within the limited trio who were sent overseas, with thanks to the FCDO. Several women, of various ranks and units, attended the meeting where each of the three delegates presented on their takeaways from the event. I had the opportunity to be amongst those women in attendance and benefited from the knowledge and information provided during the breakfast session.
Heading the meeting, Deputy Chief Officer, Mrs. Nancy Barnard, discussed the workshops she attended during the conference and the ones that were most impactful to her. She discussed mentorship and sponsorship for developing staff, communicating effectively, defining your career goals, visualising success and leading authentically. She underscored the importance of identifying the opportunities that are available to us and accepting them. “Mentorship is so important. Ladies I want to encourage you to seek out opportunities for mentorship, whether it be laterally, senior or even junior, because the juniors can provide us with perspective. But especially senior, because this will help you grow and develop.”
She ended her segment of the meeting by encouraging everyone who was present to ensure that in everything they do, they do so as their authentic selves.
Following the presentation of DCO Barnard, Superintendent Wendy Parchment gave a brief introduction about herself and provided some information on her new role as Superintendent in charge of Criminal Justice as well as her history with policing in the Cayman Islands in a male dominated field. She spoke on some of the challenges women face in the industry and ways in which we can positively overcome these challenges.
Superintendent Parchment went on to discuss the main event for her during the women in policing conference. She spoke about ensuring that we don’t set ourselves apart from the men in the organisation but that we bring them into the fold and help them to understand the issues we face and how they can assist us in making them better.
“Coming up in the organisation, there were male officers who saw me trying to set standards and show my worth in the organisation in a holistic way, and they supported me, held my hand and helped me through. Some of the changes in the organisation will be difficult for them as much as the former status quo was for us, so we have to help each other.”
The next presenter, Detective Inspector Denise Anderson, gave a brief summary of the key take away points for her during the Women in Policing Conference in the UK. She spoke on moving the organisation towards being more inclusive so that our non-police staff members to do not feel isolated, but like the valued members of the team that they are.
“We are not just talking about women police officers, we are talking about police staff. We are talking about ‘police staff’ including officers.” She then went on to say, “We need to look at leveraging opportunities that put us in the position to be the best person for the roles that we want to take on, which may mean looking at courses, doing training, understudying or going through succession planning. Look at what it takes to put ourselves in the position to better fit these jobs and excel.”
The final presenter did not attend the conference, but was invited to speak by Ms. Barnard, being part of the RCIPS WiPN Establishment Committee. Police Sergeant Elizabeth Owens provided us with some insight on how the group was formed, the progress and strides made so far and the future plans for the WiPN within the RCIPS.
“I’ve been a member of the of the British Association of Women in Policing Network since the start of my career with RCIPS 12 years ago and have remained a member ever since. In March 2022, a group formed organically to create an RCIPS network, following Supt Parchment meeting with FCDO whilst on an overseas training course, and I was asked to be apart of it,” says PS Owens. “We formed a working group, and an Establishment Committee was borne for RCIPS, becoming the RCIPS WiPN. Over the summer of 2022, together we produced a logo, a mission and vision statements alongside strategic objectives and goals. In December 2022, we presented these for the CoP and Strategic Leadership Team. I happily report the RCIPS WiPN has been approved and signed off on, making the RCIPS WiPN, an official entity in the organisation.”
In 2023 the intention is to formally launch the network to the service. There are tentative plans to deliver a professional development day for female officers and staff concluding with an annual general meeting to afford an elect committee to be established moving forward. She also shared details of the opportunities presented by the FCDO, giving examples of invites already received for RCIPS to attend the annual British Association of Women Police Annual Conference (BAWP) in March 2023, (this year hosted in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK); and the possibility of Cayman hosting a WiPN BOT regional conference later in the year. She also highlighted successes, sharing that Ms. Victoria Templeman, from the Financial Crimes Investigation Unit had been invited to speak at the Annual International Women of Police Association (IAWP) in September 2023 in New Zealand.
All four women provided words of encouragement to all the women in attendance, but especially to the youngest members of the forum who are up and coming members of the organisation. They were encouraged to find mentors, and the experienced staff were also encouraged to provide the younger members of staff with advice and to share valuable experiences so that we can all grow together.
At the end of the breakfast meeting, there was a short question and answer session and a range of information was shared. It was decided that the next session would be organized in a way that would be able to accommodate more staff as this session was very well attended. The next session date and details are to be confirmed- I along with others are excited to learn more.