Detective Constable Yvonne Newman: Being the Difference
Race Equality Week 2023
Detective Constable Yvonne Newman talks to us about her passion for empowering and supporting her colleagues within the police service. During Race Equality Week, she shares her journey in policing so far and the work she is doing to support women and other officers from ethnic minority backgrounds in the service.
Yvonne joined Thames Valley Police in 2009 and worked on Response policing for 10 years in Wokingham, with an attachment in the Prisoner Handling Unit, before specialising as a detective in Domestic Abuse Investigations. She is currently a detective in the Central Fraud Unit and a participant on Police Now’s Frontline Leadership Programme; a part-time professional development programme which prepares talented police officers for promotion to leadership roles and pays particular attention to the barriers often faced by officers from underrepresented groups.
Detective Constable Yvonne Newman:
“I grew up in Zimbabwe with my siblings and moved to the UK when I was 18. I joined Thames Valley Police in 2009 at the age of 29 and have never looked back, but it has not been without its ups and downs.
“As a Black female detective constable, with Black siblings and raising mixed race children, I am aware of how confidence in policing is below average across Black communities and how certain powers can be used disproportionately. I have also experienced racism from the public when on shifts and had conversations in force with colleagues about different experiences and the different barriers faced. When I joined my Local Policing Area I was the only Black officer at the time. But I am proud to be a bilingual English and Shona speaking Zimbabwean woman. I have been able to use my Shona skills in the job which has enabled me to create connections. I style my natural hair in traditional Zimbawean micro-locks and I also proudly wear Zimbawean African traditional clothing to work, helping me to be part of the difference I want to see.
“I have also faced struggles with my dyslexia. It can sometimes be overwhelming but support has improved in recent years, including technical support on my computer. Having a good peer network and supportive line management who are happy to have the dialogue with me and help educate others is what has kept me in the job and increased my love for it. I found getting a mentor and a coach invaluable, so I am determined to give back and support others in the same way.
“I am very passionate about empowering and supporting individuals, particularly colleagues from ethnic minority backgrounds. I have been an active member of Thames Valley Police’s Support Association for Minority Ethnic Officers and Staff (SAME) as well as The Women’s Network, I am the force representative within the National Black Police Association (NBPA), and I work closely with the force lead for the Police Race Action Plan.
“I am particularly passionate about mentoring student officers joining the force and making sure they feel supported and have a positive role model. I have recently been mentoring an officer who was struggling with their role, but with the right support they are now a thriving and well-respected detective in their team.
“I am passionate about race equity both within the workplace and in public. This is one of the reasons I joined Police Now’s Frontline Leadership Programme. I want to enhance my leadership skills and learn how to further create inclusive workplace environments. The programme has supported me to understand the promotion process and develop my leadership style, and I aim to take my Sergeants’ exam this year.
“I leave work every day knowing I have made a difference and in the absence of an abundance of Black role models, I make sure I am that role model for a number of my colleagues in force and for my two girls at home!”