Mothers in Policing
This year, in celebration of Mother’s Day, we asked two of our colleagues, Kelly Glister, Detective Chief Inspector – Crime Manager for Cherwell and West Oxfordshire Local Policing Area (LPA), and Joanne Hutchings, Deputy Commander for Cherwell and West Oxfordshire Local Policing Area (LPA), what’s it like to be a Mum with a career in policing.
Kelly, Joanne, what’s it like being a Mum in policing?
Joanne: I would be lying if I said the challenges of managing family life and work life were easy, however I don’t see myself as any different to many officers and staff who are juggling personal commitments and a career. I feel proud when my children tell me they are proud of me. I hope I am teaching them that you have to work hard in life and try and make a difference every day.
Kelly: I didn’t join as a mum, I became a mum during my policing career. I was very well looked after by my team during both my pregnancies and have been ever since. However, it has not been easy to balance both my family and work life. After both babies, I returned to work, supported by a flexible working pattern (32-hours a week) as well as a wonderful nursery, supportive husband and mother to fill the child care gaps. As a family, we had to work hard to ensure I could progress my career and be the best mum I could be. I think I have achieved this. My boys are now 18 and 16 are well rounded, social and successful in their current life choices. They understand that working hard is essential to maximise potential, and have true respect for my career choice and the wider police family. My oldest boy has policing on his own career list!
What are the challenges of being a Mum in policing? How have you overcome them?
Joanne: My biggest challenge can be the self-criticism I subject myself to. It is a very familiar feeling to feel like you are not succeeding at work and neither succeeding as a parent due to work. The reality is we are all just trying our best, and hopefully teaching our children a valuable lesson. I also want my boys to be raised to understand that women make a valuable contribution in all organisations and industries.
Kelly: When my boys were babies, I was working as a Detective Constable (DC) and ADS on the Child Abuse Investigation Unit. The role suited me in terms of shift pattern and planned on-calls, and most importantly was a job I loved and felt very passionate about. It was emotionally challenging to see children coming to harm, especially when my maternal instinct was so new and present. I spent many evenings crying and hugging my own children, thinking of the poor souls I had engaged with during the day. This did not put me off – I think it made me stronger to do the right thing, for all children to have the love and care that mine had.
Promotion processes have been tough. Extra things to juggle with studying, planning and preparation, but a sacrifice that I had to commit to in order to progress, and a test of my personal resilience, which I think has made me stronger as a result, and hopefully can inspire other women to go for it.
How has our force supported you as a Mum in policing?
Joanne: Since my children have been born I have worked a variety of flexible patterns to help my husband, and I manage two different shift patterns. My husband has also been working flexibly for a number of years, which has helped us manage family life whilst both still progressing our careers.
Kelly: TVP considered my flexible working pattern which was invaluable, but I had no expectation or sense of entitlement to this, I was very realistic that my request had to suit both the organisation and my team, so entered into negotiations very open minded, and worked with what was best for all of us. Weekend working was always a bonus, as I could keep my hours up, and other family members could have precious time with the children. As my husband is also an officer within TVP, we were able to negotiate on-call rotas and annual leave to ensure we could manage both childcare and time together – which was, and still is, vital to run a steady ship at home.
My current situation is different as the boys are not dependent in the same way, but they still need me, and I am determined to continue to play a part in their College/University/Sport activities. A holiday as a family is always an added bonus!
The organisation completely understands this and I am fully supported by my line management and others, to balance these commitments around my work diary (subject to resilience), and I am so grateful for this. Policing and motherhood is a relationship that can be managed well, with the right level of give and take is my experience over the last 20 years.
Thames Valley Police (TVP) is actively looking for people to be the difference they want to see in their communities. To find out more about a career as a Police Officer with TVP – including the realities of working on response, initial training, and to apply to become a Police Officer please visit our Police Officer page.