Hannah Hier, a BWV community reporter, asked Sue Mountstevens some questions about her role, International Women’s Day and her role in our Women and Power panel
1. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Sue Mountstevens and I’m the Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset. A crucial part of my role is to connect the community’s views with police and wider partners as well as ensuring local people get a more direct say in policing.
2. What responsibilities/tasks do you have to take on in your role?
As PCC, I act as a bridge between the police and the community to ensure local people’s views are heard.
As part of my role, it has always been important to me to put victims at the heart of the criminal justice system and I will continue to champion the voice of victims. I want to drive improvements across the criminal justice system, reduce reoffending, break the cycle of crime and work with existing partners to make real chance. I also want to make sure that the police has the right people, right equipment and right culture, ensuring the Constabulary is representative of our communities.
3. What you are looking forward to most about IWD?
I always feel privileged to meet with great women across our communities and talk about bringing greater equality to public life. Gender should not be something that makes a person feel they can’t achieve or hold a certain position in the workplace.
I really embrace this year’s theme, #BalanceIsBetter, which hopes to encourage gender balance in the workplace. At times, our fear of failure overshadows our ambition and holds us back in the workplace; we need to continue to push forward to reach our fullest potential and to achieve our dreams.
When thinking about the policing service specifically, representation of women in the police is improving with women making up 47% of the Constabulary and over 80% of my team in the PCC office are women. At the most senior level, two of the current members of the Chief Officer group in the Constabulary are women, holding positions of Deputy Chief Constable and Assistant Chief Constable.
The police service continues to work hard to make improvements and there is always more that can be done to ensure all workforces are more gender representative.
4. What was it like to take part in the Women and Power panel discussion?
I was honoured to be a part of Bristol Women’s Voice celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) this year. Taking part in the ‘Women and Power’ panel alongside other influential women was a delight; I’m always pleased to support events that empower women. The panel generated some really interesting discussions, from the representation of women in power to the impact of social media. It was fantastic to hear the other women’s stories about their achievements and challenges they have faced. We need to also think about how we can continue to make organisations more equal, diverse and balanced places. From listening to our discussion, I hope that women went away from the day thinking that if we can overcome the challenges we have faced, then they can too.
5. What does IWD mean to you?
As a woman, I seek equality and not priority in both society and the workplace. IWD is a time when both women and men from all around the world come together to drive change and showcase the struggles women still face.
Let’s not forget, it’s also a time for celebration. Often, I think we are our own worst enemies, lacking confidence during times we should believe in ourselves. Many ordinary women do extraordinary things every day and IWD lets us take a moment to recognise the social, cultural and economic achievements women have accomplished so far; it’s a chance to say thank you to all the women who make a real difference.