Dionne hopes award win inspires others to follow her into policing
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Staffordshire Police’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer Dionne Johnson is hoping that by picking up an award for her hard work ensuring the force meets national standards for inclusion it will inspire more people from BAME backgrounds to join her in the ranks.
Mrs Johnson, who has been with the force in the role since January 2019, was selected by the BAME Women in Policing group as one of the recipients of their Inspirational Woman in Policing awards for 2020, receiving the honour in a digital ceremony last Thursday (3 December).
The organisers of the awards said Dionne had “worked tirelessly” and “produced sustained achievements” in her role, while colleagues point to her “significant contribution” to the force and say she is “an ambassador for all female BAME colleagues”.
But Mrs Johnson, who lives in Cheshire, says the award took her by surprise as she “didn’t know anything” about it beforehand.
“I heard about it on the day,” she adds. “We’d held some workshops pre-Covid-19 with the BAME Women in Policing team but we hadn’t been able to meet up since because of the pandemic and discuss their success.
“I wasn’t aware of any awards beforehand and I was congratulating others as they were announced and then suddenly my name pops up.”
She started in policing 13 years ago in Cheshire, beginning on the beat as a PCSO for seven years before moving “into the HR arena”. She stayed there until her move to Staffordshire Police last year.
Her work with the force involves aligning policies, procedures and processes to match the modern police strategy, making sure that representation of BAME communities is proportionate. She supports those from different backgrounds who work in the force and helps to oversee their recruitment, retention and progression while with Staffordshire Police.
She has also been a member of the National Black Police Association (NBPA) for some years, serving two as general secretary. This led to her being appointed as one of two vice presidents in October last year.
A spokesperson for BAME Women in Policing said of the award: “Dionne has previously been the chair of Cheshire Police Multi-cultural Network before moving to Staffordshire Police. She has held several roles on the National Black Police Association and is currently the Vice President of the NBPA.
“She has worked tirelessly to ensure police forces are more representative of the communities they serve and has produced sustained achievements which required moral courage, vision and the ability to make tough decisions.”
As part of her NBPA role, she liaises and consults with groups such as The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), the National College of Policing and even the Home Office on policy and inclusion. She was due to meet with Home Secretary Priti Patel this week for talks about supporting BAME policing across the country and areas that can be improved moving forward.
Part of that can involve having difficult conversations with people to solve disagreements.
“It’s nice to be recognised,” Dionne adds, “because sometimes the work is unforgiving. You have to challenge the status quo and it can be a tough place to be – people can view the NBPA as a difficult group to work with for having to have these conversations. So it’s nice to be recognised for putting myself out there in difficult situations. I even have to challenge the Home Secretary from time to time.”
Caroline Coombe, Staffordshire Police’s Head of People & OD, said: “Dionne's award for being an Inspirational Woman in Policing from BAME Women in Policing is excellent recognition of the work she undertakes in her role. Dionne is passionate about promoting opportunities for those in underrepresented groups and also intersectionality within policing.
“Dionne acts as an excellent role model to others - encouraging and supporting colleagues and those who are interested in a career in policing to achieve their potential and highlight the many opportunities and support available.
“Dionne has established excellent relationships with staff networks across the force and national associations and has been integral in developing innovative and inclusive initiatives and programmes to support female and BAME colleagues. This has included running Positive Action workshops and Step-In sessions for those who may require additional support.
“Dionne has made a significant contribution to promoting diversity, equality and inclusion in all areas of the force, challenging where appropriate and inspiring others to flourish and be themselves. She truly embodies our modern policing strategy, promoting transparency and inclusiveness, and is an ambassador for all female BAME colleagues - inspiring them to develop and succeed.”
And Mrs Johnson hopes that this award might inspire others from BAME backgrounds to join her at Staffordshire Police and forge their own careers if they see others acting as role models.
“It’s nice for people to see black role models progressing in the forces and these awards are recognition of some great work,” she added. “They need to be promoted more.
“It’s about making people feel supported and recognised in their jobs. And this is what I will continue to do.”