Olivia Pinkney

New Hampshire chief constable Olivia Pinkney Picture: Sarah Standing
Deputy chief constable Olivia Pinkney with chief constable Giles York
Things have changed a lot in policing over recent years. Instead of just moving up through the ranks, officers can come in at different levels. And more officers are women. The Deputy Chief Constable of Sussex Police, Olivia Pinkney was drawn to a role in public service whilst still a student.
What difference does it make having more women in policing? How do the long-serving male officers view them? Does it make for a better police service?
Popular TV dramas and detective fiction often portray police officers as having a rotten private and family life. Admittedly this is a demanding career area, but the satisfaction that comes from the job can be very considerable. People just have to strike a work/home balance.
An important part of Olivia Pinkney's job is to help young women to understand what the police service can offer them and what the reality of the work is - not what people think it is!
Policing involves a wide range of roles and responsibilities, people skills and and understanding of all areas of society. Where do women in the police service fit in?
It used to be thought that women in the police were relegated to lesser roles and responsibilities and that opportunities for advancement were limited. That has changed.
From Juliette Bravo to Detective sergeant Ellie Miller women have been key elements in the success of TV cop shows. How closely do they portray the reality for women in the force?

Olivia Pinkney

Olivia is Deputy Chief Constable for Sussex Police. It is her responsibility to deliver the Operational Plan for the Chief Constable to meet the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Policing and Crime Plan. She is also responsible for the work which will ensure Sussex communities receive the policing service they need within a significantly reduced budget.

Prior to this she was Assistant Inspector of Constabulary with HMIC, independently inspecting police forces and policing, in the public interest. She previously served as Assistant Chief Constable for Surrey and Sussex Police, leading their joint operational business, their plan to collaborate more fully, and was the Southeast lead for serious and organised crime. Nationally, Olivia led for the police on tackling organised immigration crime including people trafficking.

Born in Devon, Olivia studied Mathematics at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. She is a trustee of Lifecentre, a Sussex-based charity supporting survivors of sexual abuse, and also of CAADA, a national charity supporting a strong multi-agency response to domestic abuse.

Olivia lives in Sussex, plays squash, runs and cycles – and plays the piano adequately at her local church.

Police officer

Avon and Somerset Constabulary

1991 –2009 (18 years)

I joined Avon and Somerset police after graduating from university. I worked in a variety of policing areas, from neighbourhood policing in Exmoor through to Detective Inspector in Bristol. I was Head of Special Branch, investigated major crime and developed a domestic abuse response for the force. For 3 years I enjoyed leading policing across Bath and North East Somerset as Chief Superintendent.

Assistant Chief Constable

Sussex and Surrey police

2009 –2013 (4 years)

Nationally, I devised the new UK police response to the crime of human trafficking and other organised immigration crime, developing a stronger police role to protect the victims and catch those who prey on them.
Closer to home, I was responsible for all operational policing shared by the two forces of Sussex police and Surrey police; was an executive in both chief officer teams at the same time and led the programme which embedded and expanded the shared business between them. I was also responsible for leading the response to major and critical incidents as they arose.
Prior to this I was responsible for leading policing in Sussex aside from the very local neighbourhood policing – leading child protection; counter-terrorism; public order; major and serious and organised crime; policing at Gatwick airport; firearms; intelligence. I was a member of the force chief officer team and worked with colleagues to ensure we delivered necessary services with a substantially reducing budget.

Assistant Inspector of Constabulary


April 2013 –March 2014 (1 year) Central London

I work with colleagues to inspect UK policing, in the public interest by looking across policing and police forces and reporting publicly. We seek to understand what works, why and how – and report on our findings for the public. HMIC has a statutory duty to inspect the effectiveness and efficiency of policing, being accountable to Parliament. We have a duty to explain the complex world of policing services – from the very local services of response and neighbourhood policing, through domestic abuse, serious crime and protest policing, and all other policing areas.

Massive thanks to Olivia and her team

Original material Copyright Ian Collington and Paul Beaken