United Nations (UN) sustainable development goal 5 calls for the elimination of violence, and goal 16 calls for strong and stable judicial institutions (United Nations 2016). The composition and culture of a nation’s police force play an essential role in its ability to achieve these goals. Employing a diverse workforce, particularly in terms of female representation in all ranks within the policing command structure, is a vital determinant for setting a police force’s culture. However, many police forces remain as traditional, male-dominant hierarchical institutions (Rabe-Hemp 2018). In England and Wales, although the proportion of female police officers has reached 30.4 per cent of the police force, the progression of women to the highest police ranks has declined (Home Office 2019).
This article considers the influence that female representation can have within police forces on the effective management of domestic and sexually violent crimes that disproportionately affect women. It will highlight the barriers to female recruitment and their progression, as well as suggest a series of recommendations to improve opportunities for women in policing. In doing so, the article will consequently suggest improvements to women’s access to justice, thereby providing a platform for achieving these UN goals.