Police boost female ranks

Marching through Kaitaia to mark 75 years of women in the police. Photo / Northern Advocate
Marching through Kaitaia to mark 75 years of women in the police. Photo / Northern Advocate

New Zealand Police attempts to recruit more women have been successful and rewarded.

In 2012, just 24 per cent of new police recruits across the country were women, but last year that number had jumped to nearly 36 per cent, thanks to new programmes targeted specifically at women.

It's thanks to initiatives including showcasing more women on the job in reality television programmes and targeting advertising at female recruits, Police Commissioner Mike Bush and public affairs deputy chief Karen Jones say.

For police to have the trust and confidence of the community, they must be representative of the people they serve, they believe.

Top brass recognised police faced a significant challenge in improving gender diversity and made it a priority. Their efforts won the Supreme Award at the Diversity Works NZ Empowerment Awards on Wednesday night.

"Previous recruitment campaigns have emphasised action and adventure, fast cars, chasing the bad guy, but our current approach is much more community oriented, emphasising values such as caring for the community, empathy, using who you are - a victim centric approach," Jones said.

"It's about repositioning police as a career for anybody in the community. You don't need to be big or strong, our most tactical approach is communication and everybody has a voice."

The campaigns have included new advertising targeted at women and minorities, as well as reality television episodes focusing solely on women in the police force.

All signs indicate the approach is still working with 50 per cent of hits on the NZ Police Recruitment website coming from women.

Diversity Works NZ chief executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie praised the successful campaigns. "It's no simple task to change the culture of a large organisation."

- AAP

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