Thursday, 28 August 2014

My DPCC Resignation Statement in Full

As you will have seen, I have tendered my resignation as South Yorkshire Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner.  Below is the statement I released this afternoon to explain why:

After careful consideration of my position as Labour Deputy PCC, following Shaun Wright's announcement that he has resigned from the Labour Party, it has become clear to me that I am unable to continue in the role and have therefore tendered my resignation.

It is vital for people to have confidence in the office of Police and Crime Commissioner and with this in mind, I believe it would have been the right thing for Shaun Wright to resign. This has become even more apparent given the overwhelming opinion of the public - as they are the people to whom the Commissioner is ultimately accountable. 

I am incredibly sad that this issue has become centred on one person and we seem to have lost focus on the most important factor in all this; the 1400 victims who were failed. I am more concerned about them and what is happening to them now. Have they finally received the support and help they need to try and rebuild their lives? These are the questions that demand answers.

Political point scoring will not help the victims and I hope the progress that has been made by South Yorkshire Police, in bringing those who perpetrate these dreadful crimes to justice, will continue and more children will be spared suffering this abuse. 

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Remembering Lumpy

Throughout my career, I have been quite lucky; instances of inappropriate comments or being judged because of my gender have been few...

I wrote that and then began to give examples of them and found that there were loads!  I could list them, but that would be dull - and depressing, so I will just give you the one example that stands out most.  It stands out because at the time, I was unhappy with the behaviour of the men I worked with and didn't deal with it as I should have done; mostly because I knew it would be to my detriment, not the chaps who were dishing it out...

I've always been a bit of a petrol-head and as a nineteen-year-old, I really wanted to work in the motor trade.  I sat down with the phone book, (remember those?!) and called every main dealer I could find, asking if they were recruiting to the sales team.  In between the polite "not at the moment", "No thank you" and "Sorry love!" rejections, I was also told that women usually work on the finance side of things, that I didn't really want to work in the motor trade, because it's no place for girls and that I should look at working on reception, or something like that, because "that is what the girls do."

I did get one dealership where the Sales Manager asked me to go in for an interview.  I was thrilled to get a job as Sales Executive and clearly remember him sitting me down on my first day and telling me that I would get no special treatment because I was a girl.  I was delighted; that was exactly what I'd hoped. 

It wasn't what I got though.

Every time there was something to be taken to the post office, I had to go and guess who had to fill the coffee machine, (when the receptionist wasn't around)?  

I had a nice red Astra for my company car, but when a new male Sales Executive started, I had to give it up, rather than he wait for one, as I had done when I first started there. 

When the snow fell thick on the ground, there was a stock of wellies for the chaps to wear, all size nines and tens, none of them fitted me, so I was sent out in my little red court shoes with a shovel.  When I questioned this, I was told "no special treatment remember?"  I still remember the grins of the blokes and the Sales Manager as I struggled, then how I was made to feel like a failure when the Manager came over and grabbed my shovel, saying "Go on, back inside, I'll do it myself!"

Then there was my nickname...  'Lumpy'

There was a bit of a locker room culture, rude jokes, page three calendars in the back offices and everyone having nicknames.  The chaps started calling me Lumpy almost immediately and when I asked why, they would laugh and refuse to tell me.  Eventually I found out - it was because I had two 'lumps' they didn't have.

I think the thing that made it worse though, was that the receptionist, a woman just two or three years older than me, seemed to enjoy the discomfort I was feeling about all the little things that were happening.

I remember the Dealer Principle asking me to post Valentine's Day cards, one to his wife and one the woman he'd met at a dinner party - silly man didn't seal them.  I was so tempted to put them both in the same envelope, but I didn't.  It wasn't his wife's fault that she was married to a complete *******!

Eventually, I left, feigning a dentist appointment and going to see my friend who worked at a recruitment agency.  Bless her, she got me into a temping job within two days and I was so happy to never have to see the misogynistic gits again.

If any of this happened to me now, I would stand up for myself and not tolerate it.  I certainly would not run away, as I did back then, but I was young and didn't have the level of confidence that I now have.  I know many strong young women, who would be able to stand up for themselves, but often, the confidence to challenge and out that sort of behaviour comes with age and experience.

One thing that would have made a difference though, is if the other women there had been supportive; not just the receptionist, but the older women who worked in the back office.  I was in the "blokes' side" of the business though and they were in admin and finance, the "girls' side". I felt very isolated.

Thankfully, the world has moved on now and I hope that whilst the junior staff member will always have to do the mundane things, as they start on the bottom rung of the ladder; they will not also be treated badly because they happen to be female too.