THE SPANISH National Police have led the way in hiring female staff since their first recruitment drive almost 40 years ago and are the police institution with the highest number of women employed in Spain.
Since the first 42 women were hired by the force back in 1979 the number has been rising steadily and now there are almost 9,000 female officers employed which equals 13 per cent of the total staff.
The statistics that have been published by the National Police are encouraging, and come amid International Women’s Day; however the benefit of having a mixed gender force is still often scarcely highlighted by institutions across Europe. Studies have shown that female officers are less reliant on physical force, less authoritarian in their approach to policing and are more effective communicators which when paired with their male counterparts can be a valuable asset. Most importantly, female officers are better at resolving potentially violent confrontations before situations turn deadly.
Many women have previously been put off from applying based on the assumption that brute strength is one of the main requirements for being a successful police officer.
Being a male dominated institution, female officers might be concerned over sexual harassment and negative male attitudes. Too many male officers continue to hold the view that women can’t be effective police officers. And yet, in contrast, studies have shown that community members prefer officer teams with both a woman and a man, largely because they believe women are better able to defuse potentially dangerous situations.
One of the key objectives established by the European Network of Policewomen is not only the number of women in the staff but also their level of responsibility and in Spain the statistics are promising with one Head Commissioner, 21 Commissioners, 150 Chief Inspectors, 644 inspectors, 516 sub-inspectors and 7,386 officers in the Spanish National Police all of which are women.
Among the equality measures established by the Police General Directorate there are now flexible working hours for female workers who have to take care of children, elderly, disabled people or sick relatives. Changing shift patterns have also been established for women going through divorces or separations as well as allowances for single-parent families among other measures.