Thames Valley Police and local campaigner recognised nationally for working to tackle violence against women and girls
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Sharon Gaffka has been judged the joint winning entry in the first National Police Chiefs’ Council and College of Policing’s recognition event for police officers, staff and volunteers who are working to tackle violence against women and girls, following her partnership with Thames Valley Police.
Sharon, who lives within the Thames Valley, passionately campaigns around women’s safety and partnered with the force for a year, won the Violence against women and girls’ ambassador category, alongside a rape survivor who has worked with Lincolnshire Police.
Throughout the partnership, Sharon went out on patrol with frontline officers, went on Good Morning Britain with Assistant Chief Constable Katy Barrow-Grint to talk about spiking and violence against women and girls more generally and interviewed ACC Katy Barrow-Grint and DS Amy Howard about life in the police as a woman and the policing response to Rape and Sexual Offences.
The recognition event was developed and judged jointly by police forces and representatives from charities including SafeLives, Suzy Lamplugh Trust and Karma Nirvana, alongside the Domestic Abuse Commissioner for England and Wales, Nicole Jacobs, and police staff associations. Over 140 entries were received which were initially judged regionally by police and third sector panels, before being put in front of a national panel who decided the 13 overall winners.
Thames Valley Police were also regional winners in four categories;
The ‘we have heard and we have changed’ category for launching a rape and sexual assault support group for officers and staff;
The ‘leadership’ category for ACC Katy Barrow-Grint's drive, passion and direction in leading the work to tackle violence against women and girls across the force.
The ‘improving culture and conduct internally’ category for taking learnings from South Wales Police into another force to tackle sexual harassment; and
The ‘effective working with children and young people to teach them about violence against women and girls’ category for demystifying sexual assault referral centres to support women aged 16 to 24 years old
Assistant Chief Constable Katy Barrow-Grint, Thames Valley Police’s lead for tackling violence against women and girls, said: “I am delighted that the work Sharon delivered with Thames Valley Police has been recognised at this national level.
“The partnership between us and Sharon was an innovative collaboration, which has enabled us to reach a younger audience with important messages about reporting sexual offences, raising awareness of sexual assault referral centres and sharing what it’s like to be a woman working in the police.
“Sharon has spoken widely about the positive work policing is doing around violence against women and girls, and reached an audience policing would otherwise not have managed to, improving the trust and confidence of women and girls locally and nationally.
“I’m also honoured to have receive a regional award for leadership and would like to congratulate our other regional winners, whose hard work has been recognised by the panel, highlighting the numerous ways we are working to tackle violence against women and girls.”