WILTSHIRE’S top police officer has said there is still work to do to ensure more women and ethnic minority officers are represented at the highest level in the force.

Of the 17 members of Wiltshire Police’s senior management team, five are women. The force’s eight-member executive team has just two female members.

Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said: “That isn’t where it needs to be, I’ve got more I need to do to encourage and enable female staff and staff from different minorities to excel through our organisation.

“It’s absolutely my priority to make sure we are representative from the top right through to the bottom, because it brings a different perspective and actually it challenges the group think that male, pale and grey officers can sometimes find themselves thinking.

“It enables you to get the best out of different experiences and backgrounds.”

Speaking ahead of a region-wide conference aimed at supporting women in policing, Chief Constable Pritchard said Wiltshire Police had launched a new development programme to train a new cohort of leaders within the force. The gender split was roughly equal between men and women.

He said more support was available to get a wider range of people into the county’s force. Investments in new technology had made it easier for officers and police staff to work more flexibly.

“I know the challenges of how you balance home and family and we need to be able to enable our staff to do that,” Chief Constable Pritchard added. “If they don’t feel that’s our culture they won’t want to join and they won’t want to stay.

“We need a culture that’s inclusive, gets the best out of people and where they feel totally valued for the contribution they make.”

He appeared to allude to the recent case of PC Geoff Goodway, a Devizes constable who was sacked in August for gross misconduct after he sent abusive emails to the public, an explicit image to a member of staff and assaulted a member of the public while off-duty.

“I need to make sure the culture is one of absolute inclusion,” he said.

“There is absolutely no place for any behaviours or practice that is unlawful or discriminates. I will stamp down hard on any poor performance or behaviour that knocks us back from having that intention of having a really diverse and representative team.”

The chief's comments came not long after the force marked 100 years since it took on its first female officer. Pioneering policewoman Florence White, taken on by Salisbury Police in May 1918 was the first in the country to have the same rights as a male constable. After seven years she transferred to Birmingham City Police at the equivalent rank to sergeant and later became the first female inspector.

Wiltshire's first female chief constable was Dame Elizabeth Neville, who served in the rank from 1997 to 2004 when she retired from the force.