Rachel Kearton was appointed as Suffolk Constabulary’s first female Chief Constable some six months ago, in December 2022, having previously served with the Hampshire, West Yorkshire and Northumbria forces. Her career also includes time with His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Service (HMICFRS), and the Home Office, as well as a career break during which she worked for the British Embassy in Ankara, Turkey.
As part of a week’s filming for PolicingTV with Suffolk Constabulary, Rachel spoke here to PolicingTV’s Founder and Publisher, Bernard Rix, from the Constabulary’s policing base at the Latitude Festival in the grounds of Henham Park, Suffolk.
As the force’s relatively recently appointed Chief Constable, Rachel reflects on the changes she’ll be looking to implement within the force. As she says, “this isn’t a reflection of where we’ve been, it’s about where we are going in the future. In the future, we know that resources are going to be tight… and we know there’s more we can do as a service”. These changes include developments to the Constabulary’s approach to neighbourhood policing, with this currently being piloted in Lowestoft – Rachel explains more in the video.
Rachel also talks about her career break, part of which was spent working for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the British Embassy in Ankara. A break from policing that was, in Rachel’s words… “hugely useful, and I also believe that some respite from the pressures of policing as well was very beneficial… I came back rejuvenated, re-energised, with some clearer thinking and some very, very strong partnerships from across government as well – hopefully beneficial all round”.
In talking about her new “Delivery Plan” for the Constabulary, Rachel sets out the “future for Suffolk Police – it’s about bringing innovation in to the area, what have we got that’s incredibly special here, because many other people would want to have a taste of it, well let’s export that and import some of those ideas, and that’s the way that we will grow”.
Finally, Rachel looks forward to what her legacy as Chief Constable might be. She provides a three part response, the first part including: “The world will go on after I leave, at whatever point that may be, so my responsibility to the people is to make sure that I’ve made that investment in the organisation, so who are going to be the new leaders of the future, what is going to be the culture of the organisation, whenever I come to the point of leaving. I want to be able to move away feeling as though I’m leaving behind a fresh, forward-thinking, innovative culture and environment with good, strong leaders that own that”.
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