International Women’s Day: Eleri Thomas, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner

8th March 2024

For this year’s International Women’s Day we are being asked to ‘inspire inclusion’. It is a call to action for us all to break down barriers and challenge stereotypes wherever we find them. To create environments where all women are valued and respected.

Challenging discrimination, and working to ensure that everyone is treated equally, fairly and with respect, is something that has always been incredibly important to me. I have been very lucky to have had some fantastic opportunities in my life and these have been instrumental in shaping both me personally and my career. However, I spent time volunteering in Swaziland during apartheid in South Africa and I saw first hand the impact of inequality, discrimination and violence.

Working within communities that were severely deprived and segregated along racial lines instilled in me an inherent desire to tackle inequality and a drive to create opportunities for those either deliberately excluded, or forgotten, in our society. I wanted to ensure that people have opportunities to be the best that they can be, regardless of their sex, gender identity, race, disability, religion or upbringing.

This has been a theme throughout my career and now, as Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, I am in a privileged position to help to drive inclusion within policing and the criminal justice system. To help ensure that the women who work as police officers, staff and volunteers have equal opportunities, equal pay and that any barriers to women succeeding in the work place are broken down.

Since I became the Deputy PCC eight years ago Gwent Police has embraced a culture of change. In Gwent we now have female a Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable, and there are more female officers on the front line than ever before. I am very proud too that victims of domestic and sexual abuse now have a voice through a dedicated survivor engagement coordinator, and of the work we are doing to ensure that women who do offend are offered the help and support they need to live happier, healthier lives that are free from crime.

I have seen huge progress throughout my life and career and it is important to celebrate the significant contribution women have made to our society. But our work cannot and must not stop there. Policing is on a journey, and it still has some way to go. We must continue to ‘inspire inclusion’ and create opportunities that allow women to have their eyes opened to new possibilities, and to succeed in whichever way they choose.