Acting Detective Sergeant Victoria Gidman: tackling Violence Against Women and Girls
Friday 3 March 2023
Acting Detective Sergeant Victoria Gidman is passionate about tackling Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG). She tells us about prioritising VAWG within her roles, her ambitions to be an inclusive and strong leader, and her experience as a woman and working mother within the police service.
Victoria joined Thames Valley Police in 2008 in a police staff role supporting the Major Crimes Unit before becoming a serving frontline officer in 2012. After two years on Response, she became a Specially Trained Officer supporting adult victims of sexual violence. She then trained as a detective and moved onto the Child Abuse Unit and later the Child Sexual Exploitation team. She is now an acting detective sergeant on the Domestic Violence Investigation Unit in Milton Keynes.
This week, she completed Police Now’s national Frontline Leadership Programme; a year long, part-time professional development course which prepares talented police officers for promotion to leadership roles and pays particular attention to the barriers often faced by officers from underrepresented groups.
Acting Detective Sergeant Victoria Gidman:
“I had always wanted to join the police service because I saw it as a career where I could really make an impact and help people. Since joining, I’ve managed to support victims of crime, tackle serious violence, and make a difference to people’s lives in various roles – including as a Specially Trained Officer supporting victims of sexual violence as well as in the Child Abuse Unit and Child Sexual Exploitation team, and in my current role on the Domestic Violence Investigation Unit.
“Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) is now a national priority for policing and has always been a key part of police work. However, it was much less talked about ten years ago than it is now. My main motivation for moving from my Specially Trained Officer role into a detective role in 2016 was because I wanted to focus on seeking justice for victims of VAWG in an investigative capacity and drive this forward as a priority in our detective teams. Despite working with incredible and passionate colleagues who always supported victims and prevented crime to the best of their abilities, I was often frustrated that VAWG was not always talked about as a priority back then. This has changed a lot in recent years, and it is now a huge focus within policing nationally but there is still more to be done to better protect victims, root out those who seek to harm women, and build the strongest cases to ensure that offenders are brought to justice. I hope to be able to drive this forward in a sergeant role and ensure VAWG always remains a priority in our team’s day-to-day policing.
“It wasn’t until I returned from my maternity leave that I decided to put myself forward for promotion to sergeant. Experiencing some of the barriers of being a working mother and returning to work made me realise it was time to put myself forward for more senior roles, where I could lead in more inclusive and positive ways. At the time I was considering promotion, I happened across Police Now’s Frontline Leadership Programme. The timing was perfect, I put my application through and was accepted to the programme.
“The Frontline Leadership Programme is a national professional development course which supports officers to improve their operational competency, develop leadership skills, and navigate the promotion process from constable to sergeant rank. I completed my final day on the programme this week, having started as a detective constable and successfully moved into an acting sergeant role.
“I have to admit I was apprehensive when I first put my application in, but that changed completely after I started the programme. We received incredibly useful insights from the guest speakers, including very senior officers and specialists, and my Police Now Progression and Development Officer was great. I was also able to network with people across the country as well as officers within my own force. It was reassuring to hear from others about imposter syndrome and how people have overcome setbacks or barriers, too.
“I think a lot of barriers that people face, particularly women, are internal barriers we put up ourselves. Police Now’s programme and other support I’ve received in force has helped me address these internal barriers. A few years ago, I also completed the ‘Springboard Programme’, which offers mentoring to women in the police service and encouraged us to go for different roles and opportunities. I am also part of Thames Valley Police’s Women’s Network and, as part of a local initiative, I am mentoring a fellow police constable who is looking to move into a detective role like I did.
“It can be a challenge finding time to engage in extra initiatives, particularly when trying to maintain a healthy work-life balance and organise childcare, but it’s important to support one another and take the time for personal and professional development. I am excited about moving into a sergeant role and to continue supporting my colleagues as well as victims of crime in Thames Valley.”
*Specially Trained Officers (STOs) are now referred to as Sexual Offences Liaison Officers (SOLOs). You can read more about that role here.