British Association for Women in Policing 

Special Recognition Award 2015

An individual who has made a significant contribution and commitment to the advancement of women in policing.

Award sponsored by BT

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Superintendent Penelope Banham, Metropolitan Police Service

‘Penny is absolutely passionate about the support, retention and progression of female officers and other under-represented groups’. 

Penny is recognized for her leadership and continued drive and momentum regarding the support for female police officers. Over the last five years, she has continually shown passion and drive in supporting female officers across the Metropolitan Police Service to maximize their own potential and realize ambition in policing.  Penny has organised network events across the Metropolitan Police Service focusing on commands without any female senior leaders.  This has created invaluable contact and support for female Inspectors and Sergeants, creating essential networks within the service.  Penny’s ambition is to highlight the business benefits of a diverse senior leadership team.

Penny recently organised and hosted “Keeping Gender on the Agenda: Next Generation Diversity” event. This event focused on how to better support and encourage our female senior leaders of tomorrow and tackle barriers to promotion and progression. 

The feedback from the event has been excellent with an overall feeling of those attending that the presentations and discussions had been thought provoking with male colleagues all agreeing to further challenge what they are doing in support of the work. 

Penny is an active member of the MPS Association of Senior Women Officers and the Superintendents Association undertaking numerous projects in the support of progressing gender equality in policing - much of this is undertaken in her own time.  Penny tirelessly encourages and mentors a huge number of officers both male and female.  Penny is absolutely passionate about the support, retention and progression of female officers and other under-represented groups and furthering the benefits that they bring to the organisation. Penny does all of this on top of her day job, running a busy OCU.

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Highly Commended 

Susan Thomson, Thames Valley Police (retired)

‘Susan has been a trailblazer for women and has selflessly used her success in the operations in the arena to encourage others to follow in her footsteps’. 

Susan joined the service in 1981 and was awarded Cadet of the Year in 1983.  She was a founding member of the all-female Police Support Unit formed to police the peace camp at Greenham Common.  In 1987 Susan joined the Firearms Team becoming proficient with every weapon in the police armoury.  In 1991, she became the first female Public Order Instructor in Thames Valley Police. She became a specialist in policing protest as a Tactical Advisor, offering guidance to senior officers on both strategy and tactics during high profile events such as the Newbury by-pass protests and the Luton Riots. Susan used her time on Public Order to promote the importance of women in tactical roles, mentoring and encouraging future female dog handlers, firearms officers and evidence gatherers. 

It was during her time on the Support Group that Susan was involved in a serious car accident damaging her neck to the extent where her time on firearms was over. Instead of settling for a medical pension, Susan formed the Restricted Officers Campaign challenging the force to keep officers in service and allowing them to continue their career. As part of this campaign, Susan devised a system to categorise the roles available to officers and matching them to officer’s restrictions.  This changed the way that restricted officers were viewed and many can credit Susan with their continued success in the Force. 

Susan was also one of the founding members of the Thames Valley Women’s Network.  Throughout her career, she has advised, coached and supported the women of TVP. Susan has been a trailblazer for women and has selflessly used her success in the operations in the arena to encourage others to follow in her footsteps.  Susan is still an advocate for women despite take on a challenging new role as a student midwife – no retirement for Susan! 

Wendy Walker, Thames Valley Police

‘..the driving force behind “Maternity Buddies…’

Wendy joined the Thames Valley Women’s Network in 2007 and took on the challenging role of Communications Officer with the aim of bringing the network into the modern age of social media.  Wendy opened up Facebook and Twitter accounts ensuring the messages reached as many people as possible.  This proved particularly useful to keep in touch with people temporarily away from the work due to things such as maternity leave.  Other Forces have since followed Wendy’s lead. One of her innovative ideas was the Women’s Network Advent Calendar on Facebook recognising the achievements of international women and members of the police service.  Wendy interviewed many inspirational women for the Network magazine including Cherie Blair, Lady Brenda Hale and Theresa May for the benefit of the members.

Wendy has been the driving force behind “Maternity Buddies”, a scheme which supports police staff and officers who are pregnant in navigating their maternity leave in a career friendly way for the benefit of themselves and the organisation.  There is no doubt that this scheme, supporting women while on maternity leave, has encouraged women to stay with the force and continue their careers. She has also created a "Flexible Freinds" scheme, supporting those considering flexible working.  Other forces, in particular Greater Manchester Police, have adopted many of Wendy’s ideas. Wendy furthered her links with GMP by recruiting 70 women to take part in Run to Remember, a charity event to raise money in memory of two-murdered GMP officers. 

Wendy is the unofficial mentor for many men and women offering career advice and assistance with board preparation and is an inspirational speaker for Springboard.

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