In the second stop for Commander Alison Heydari’s ‘Behind the Badge’ Q&A lectures, the most senior Black Female Officer in the UK talked Careers, Research, Racism and Mental Health Support to the Sixth Form Students.
Commander Heydari from the Metropolitan Police Service returned to Tottenham to inform the Uniformed Services aspirants at Haringey Sixth Form College about her life to date in policing.
The students, who are working to secure a Level Three BTEC in Public Services, receive curriculum enrichment from Hope in Tottenham as they hope for a career in either the Armed Forces, Prison Service or Emergency Services.
Supported by Sergeant Steve Garty of North Area Borough Command Unit, Commander Heydari told the students that policing was not what she thought she would do having grown up in South London.
Initially hoping to pursue a career in Art, she eventually took up Policing, hoping to make a change in the world. Having joined the MPS in 2020 she is now the highest-ranking Black female officer in the country. Detailing her rise through the ranks via the High Potential scheme, Commander Heydari took stints training in crisis negotiation and as a HM Inspector of Constabulary. Commander Heydari also has experience in Domestic Violence Research, having completed her PhD in the subject whilst serving in the police.
Not afraid of tougher subjects, Commander Heydari discussed the racial disparity in the criminal justice system and discussed how the Sarah Everard case has impacted trust and confidence in the police. Acknowledging how this impacts all of us, Commander Heydari said she would like to see many more BAME women in the service, committing her own time as a mentor to make this happen.
At the end of the presentation, she took questions from the students, with questions ranging from racism in the MPS, to violence against women and stop and search procedures.
Being asked how it was possible to root out substandard behaviour; Commander Heydari revealed that there is an ongoing review of all allegations made against officers within the last three years. Additionally, a new, ‘Violence Against Women and Girls’ strategy is being developed within the Metropolitan Police Service.
Commander Heydari also reassured students that if they feel like they have been unfairly targeted, they should make a formal complaint. Acknowledging that this is not a long term solution, she recognized that a more diverse community of officers is needed too.
With regard to stop and search powers, the Commander asked young people to seriously consider joining their Independent Advisory Group. As an official review channel, it is one of the best ways for the community to make their voices heard, especially on the best ways to implement stop and search powers.
The Principal at Haringey Sixth Form College, Lisa Westray ended the session by reminding any Public Service students who are considering a career in the police to make a difference to the injustices they may see in the criminal justice system.
Hope In Tottenham would like to thank Commander Dr Alison Heydari for her time and the staff and students at Haringey Sixth Form College for their ongoing support.
By Christina Davis, Police Engagement Manager