On International Women’s Day, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) is showcasing the stories of three inspiring women from across the ranks who have brought change to policing in their own unique ways.
Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Natasha Foster is a lifeline for the often isolated communities she supports in the valleys of South Wales. British Transport Police Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi leads by example, advocating for women and ensuring everyone’s voice is heard, while Superintendent Manjit Atwal of Leicestershire Police and the College of Policing is a trailblazer for ensuring policing reflects the diverse communities it serves.
Each woman has a personal story to tell, but they are united by their collective desire to make a genuine difference to both our communities and the world of policing.
PCSO Natasha Foster, South Wales Police
“Every day I’m investing in my community; there’s no other place I’d rather work.”
“I was working on the front desk of Cardiff Police Station 20 years ago when I first heard about the introduction of the PCSO role. It was a brand new role in policing and when I read the job description, it felt like it had been written for me!
“Being a PCSO is a very different role to that of an officer and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m passionate about influencing change and safeguarding those who are vulnerable, whether that’s through running surgeries to help women dealing with domestic abuse or working with young people to show them that they can trust in police."
Chief Constable Lucy D'Orsi QPM, British Transport Police
“If I could give my past self some advice, it would be that it’s okay to dream big.”
“It is easy to judge someone by how they appear in a media interview or when you see the uniform and hear me speak, but fundamentally I am just as prone to the worries of life as anybody else. How I portray myself publicly now has all been learned along the way on my policing journey, I have gained confidence I didn’t know I had.
“I started my career in 1992 as a PC at the Metropolitan Police Service working in central London Vine Street Station. Back then, my dream was to reach the rank of Superintendent, which felt like a big dream. If anyone had said to me I’d be the Chief Constable of British Transport Police, I simply wouldn’t have believed them. And my goodness, I wish I could go and tell the 22 year old Lucy how far she would go."
Superintendent Manjit Atwal, Leicestershire Police and College of Policing.
“Growing up, I do not remember ever seeing a police officer that looked like me.”
“My family originate from the Punjab in India; my dad came over in 1958, followed by my mother in 1962. I was born in Derbyshire and raised with an understanding of my Sikh culture and family values, and these two things are a vital part of who I am. Sikhs believe in the oneness of all beings and the equality of everyone, truthful living and service to humanity. These principles align with so much within policing, like the Peelian Principles and the Professional Standards of Policing.
“I have to confess, policing was not my first choice: I wanted to be a nurse. However, my motivations were the same. I wanted to help people, to nurture other women, and bring those from my community along with me. I married at 18 and my career aspirations for nursing conflicted with the family I had married into.
“After a divorce a few years later, I saw a police recruitment campaign in Leicestershire, and importantly, the emphasis was on recruiting from the diverse community of Leicestershire. I decided to go along to an open day.
“I will admit that up until that moment in my life, my personal experience of policing had not been good. I had found the same when speaking to others within my community. This is due to only ever dealing with police during incidents of hate crime, domestic abuse or forced marriages. When you don’t see yourself reflected in the police, that makes it harder to take the leap to apply, to be the first, the standout, the only one.
“Having attended the recruitment event, I was sold. I was a single mother of two young children, but I knew in that moment that this was for me."