Four inspirational women from Merseyside Police honoured at awards
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Four inspirational women from Merseyside Police have been honoured at a national awards event in London.
DCI Allison Woods, Detective Sergeant Joanne Devers, Detective Constable Loretta Dean, and Firearms Licensing Researcher Judith Alexander were amongst the dozens of female colleagues celebrating the combined 2020 and 2021 British Association for Women in Policing awards.
DCI Woods won the Special Recognition Award 2021. Judith came runner-up in the Inspirational Woman 2021 category and DS Devers was runner up in the Police Officer of the Year award for 2021. Meanwhile, DC Dean was the joint 2020 winner of the Excellence in Performance category.
This year’s BAWP awards attracted 450 nominations from forces around the country, including 14 women from a range of roles and varying length of service from Merseyside Police.
Chief Constable Serena Kennedy attended the event with our winners.
She said: “As our force’s first ever female Chief Constable I know how important it is to have role models to look up to and be inspired by. Hearing about the work that the likes of Allison, Judith, Jo and Loretta do to help others, both inside and outside of their job, really brings home to me the importance of having women equally represented throughout policing.
“It is a fantastic career to choose and our winners and runners up have been inspiring, supporting and leading people around them so that collectively, as a police force, we serve the public well and be the best we can be.
“Awards like this provide a great opportunity for us to say a huge thank you to colleagues who consistently go above and beyond, and treat them to a well-deserved celebration in their honour. I’m so proud of them all and I’m grateful to everyone behind the scenes who nominated them and to the event organisers for hosting us all.”
DCI Woods, know as Ally by her friends and colleagues, was born in Kirkby and during a 24 year police career has worked in a wide range of roles, including operational support (the early version of Matrix), firearms, covert surveillance, homicide investigation and gun and gang crime.
She was the youngest person to captain the Great Britain Handball Team and has competed in two Commonwealth Games, winning bronze medals at both. During her police career, she became the first female authorised armed surveillance officer (a firearms officer authorised to carry a concealed weapon in an non-uniform role) and the first female firearms tactical advisor (in command of firearms incidents on the ground and advising senior commanders elsewhere).
She is also a member of the national mentoring scheme ‘Girls Network’ which aims to inspire and empower young women from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve their potential.
She said: “I am incredibly humbled to receive the award, and extremely proud to represent Merseyside Police. The event celebrated so much bravery, success and resilience that at times it felt like a fairy tale and I was walking amongst giants. It’s one of the highlights of my career.”
Judith came runner up in the Inspirational Women category. She is the former chair of the force’s disability support network and for 30 years has lived with the rare neurological disorder Idiopathic Relapsing Myelitis. The married mum-of-three is also a carer and currently works in the force’s firearms licensing team, which assesses applications from people to legally own a gun, and monitors compliance of gun laws at shooting clubs and by gun traders.
Judith has been the driving force of the disability support network, supporting colleagues with various disabilities to ensure their needs are met by the force, and that they have remained safe during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
She has forged links with St Vincent’s School in Liverpool, a school for sensory-impaired children, and raised awareness of disability issues in the workplace during the global Purple Light Up Day every December.
The network won ‘Most Improved Disability Support Network in 2019’ from the national Disabled Police Association. Judith now sits on the executive committee and uses social media to lead on its communications to the wider policing community.
This week’s awards ceremony in London also celebrated the winners and runners-up from the 2020 event, which was disrupted by the pandemic.
DS Jo Devers was the runner up in the Police Officer of the Year category and DC Loretta Dean was the joint winner of the Excellence in Performance award.
Jo works in the force’s cyber dependent crime team having moved there from the economic crime team where she investigated fraud and other financial crime. She has driven her new team’s performance in terms of successfully investigating cyber crime referrals from Action Fraud, and the reassurance and crime prevention advice offered to every victim.
Loretta was the officer in charge (OIC) of catching a violent serial rapist who targeted vulnerable sex workers in Liverpool in 2018. Loretta and colleagues built a strong enough case to ensure that when it got to court, it had the highest chance of success. She built up trust with all three victims, who were traumatised and led chaotic lifestyles, and despite the perpetrator denying the rapes, a jury found him guilty of all three following a trial.
More information about the British Association of Women in Policing can be found at www.bawp.org or by following @BAWPUK