New research on under-representation of female chief officers

Derbyshire Constabulary DCC Kate Meynell has recently completed an MSc in Police Leadership, Strategy and Organisation at the University of Derby, and the focus of the enquiry is Leadership in the Blues: A critical analysis of under-representation of female Chief Officers.

DCC Meynell joined policing in 1993. In 2015, she became Head of East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) Major Crime, before transferring to Northamptonshire Police to the role of Chief Superintendent, Head of Crime. She returned to Nottinghamshire Police as ACC and then transferred to Derbyshire Police on promotion to DCC in January 2021.

Enshrined in the longstanding Peelian Policing Principles, policing by consent necessitates that police forces secure the trust and confidence of the communities they serve. It has long been recognised that having a police service that is seen to be representative enhances legitimacy and in turn public confidence.   This is particularly significant in challenging times for policing with significant events and police failings calling into question police conduct and legitimacy.

The role and experience of women police officers and leaders has only recently been the subject of academic study (Brown, 1988) but the benefits of a female leaders have been widely acknowledged, having a positive impact on both performance and managing change (Koeppel, 2014). Andrews and Johnston-Miller (2011) specifically recognised the value female leaders can bring to policing.

Kate’s research explores why, despite all the evidence and focus on recruitment and progression of females, they (like other minority groups) continue to be underrepresented across the police service

Findings establish current representation figures for women, followed by analysis of literature relating to police culture and women in policing.  Surveys were sent to two participant groups Chief officers and Qualified Sergeants.  Questions posed sought to explore the perceptions, experiences, and aspirations of both groups.  In addition to this comparison of the responses from both groups provided the opportunity to identify differences between those starting the journey of hierarchical progression to those who had reached their destination.

DCC Meynell’s research, alongside others, will be featured at a free on-line seminar on 8 February 2022, between 10am and 12 midday. If you would like to join the seminar, or find out more about the University of Derby,  contact the MSc Programme leader, Dr Richard Stapleford at





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