Elite police squads equip for women
Friday 06 August 1999
Commander Judy Davison, president of the British Association of Women Police, revealed yesterday that a series of measures is being introduced to improve female representation in such units.Women officers find it difficult to take posts in specialist firearms units because they cannot get their fingers around the triggers of the Beretta and Heckler & Koch 9mm weapons the special forces favour.
Ms Davison's City of London force has introduced slimmer weapons, such as the small Glock 9mm handgun, and has also asked Honda to develop a police specification model of its NT 650V Deauville motorcycle, which is 74kg lighter than the standard-issue Honda ST1100.
The Metropolitan Police is pursuing a similar policy after concerns that women officers found powerful standard issuemotorbikes physically intimidating and too heavy to handle in traffic.
Ms Davison said the sheer bulk of the larger machine would be off-putting: "I can only say that as an individual who has never ridden a motorcycle, I find the size of the vehicle intimidating."
There are only a handful of women police motorcyclists in the whole of the country and, as in most forces, City of London has none. "If we have a lighter bike that actually looks smaller and does the same job, it must be an advantage," Ms Davison said.
Police chiefs are aware that women are seriously under-represented in specialist squads. Research produced by the University of Teesside last December suggested that such units were seen by many female officers as the last bastions of male chauvinism.
With the abolition of traditional height restrictions in the police, senior officers are anxious that the size of equipment does not prohibit smaller officers, male and female, from joining elite squads.
Proposals to introduce more women-friendly equipment come in response to concern over the problems faced by women officers who need to wear stab and bullet-resistant protective vests, which are shaped to fit men and are uncomfortable for female officers.
Ms Davison said the new availability of flexible protective materials had provided a possible solution for the body armour problem. She added that she was encouraged by how helpful chief constables were being towards the needs of women officers.
Women police are also unhappy with the design of belts on which they are expected to carry handcuffs, a baton, a radio, CS spray canister, document pouches and possibly a firearm, making them impractical for people with slim waists. Women would also like shorter riot shields.
Ms Davison, who sits on the equal opportunities committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: "You have to run in your protective clothing and carrying a shield. Even if you are fit, if you are short in stature it is very hard to carry it above ground level."
Even the build of some police vehicles, particularly vans, means many women have difficulty in reaching the pedals.
- 1 British tourists 'murdered' in Thailand: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 2 Vivienne Westwood says 'Yes' to Scottish Independence by declaring: 'I hate England'
- 3 Welcome to Cameroon, where drinking Baileys can lead to imprisonment
- 4 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 5 Vogue under fire for 'Big Booty' article
British tourists 'murdered' in Thailand: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
Jihadi John': MI5 may have identified Isis militant who killed David Haines but options limited
Vivienne Westwood says 'Yes' to Scottish Independence by declaring: 'I hate England'
David Haines beheading: David Cameron says Britain will hunt down Isis 'monsters' shown in video murdering aid worker
Piers Morgan attempts to save the Union by promising to go back to the US if Scotland votes 'No' to independence
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke
£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...
£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...