Suffolk Constabulary to host International Women’s Day event in Ipswich on March 16

The information day will address issues facing women in today's society, such as internet safety, se

The information day will address issues facing women in today's society, such as internet safety, sexual exploitation and FGM. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The most senior woman in Suffolk Constabulary is encouraging communities to come together for an information day focussing on keeping women in the county safe.

Suffolk's assistant chief constable Rachel Kearton.

Suffolk's assistant chief constable Rachel Kearton. - Credit: Gregg Brown

The event, Putting Women First: Vulnerabilities and Exploitation Awareness, has been organised in celebration of International Women’s Day.

Rachel Kearton began her role as Suffolk’s assistant chief constable in September last year after spending three-and-a-half years working in the Foreign Office in Turkey.

“I have experienced what it’s like being a woman in a world where most people speak a different language and where I looked different,” she said.

“It can be very isolating and I know from personal experience that all it takes is a couple of smiles, a friendly face and an open invitation to feel part of that community.

“The more people who come to the event the better, it will add to the richness of discussion and possibly a lot of people will find they are not the only person in their position.

“I want people who have come from elsewhere from other countries and cultures to see that we are part of the community support, we are there for them, they are as important to us as any other individual who lives here or visits here or works here and they have equal access to our services and support as anyone else.”

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The event, put together by Suffolk Constabulary, will focus on issues affecting women in today’s society, such as internet safety, domestic abuse, FGM (female genital mutilation) and sexual exploitation.

Ms Kearton said: “Women are often the primary carers of children, so we want to show particularly women who have a different criminal justice backgrounds in their home countries what support is available for families, children and women.

“I think one of the biggest challenges facing women in Suffolk today is crimes that are happening behind closed doors, where women don’t have easy access to help. Whether that be domestic abuse or cyber crime over the internet, this is the hardest part of policing at the minute.”

Ms Kearton joined the police in 1989 and has served in a number of different forces across the country.

Despite recognising that women are still not equally represented in the industry, she said things were improving.

“It’s a challenging role and there have been challenges for various reasons, some of them because I’m a woman and some because it’s a male-dominated occupation but it’s about bringing a different perspective to which women can do and men can do equally.

“Once upon a time there were no senior women police officers and it was very hard to see women in senior roles.

“We do have a lot more women working their full career in policing, we have a lot of policies in place to support women to take career breaks to support families, to work part time, flexible working hours. We have roles which are child-friendly in terms of school hours, so a lot has been done there to support families.”

Ms Kearton said it was important for women to see leading female role-models in policing to encourage them to strive for top positions in the force.

“My parents were teachers so public service has been in my family as a child and policing offers a huge variety of work,” she added.

“I see it as a very privileged job which exposes us to the best and worse of people’s lives.

“We are there when babies are born and there when people die, and every day brings sometime different and having that contact with communities and what happened to people in their lives is very special.”

The event will take place on March 16 at Murrayside Learning Centre in Ipswich from 10am to 2.15pm.

To attend the event , email: PuttingWomenFirst@suffolk.pnn.police.uk or call: 07944216759.