'˜Inspirational' Rotherham police officer honoured with national award

A Rotherham police officer has been honoured with a national award for her work engaging with 'hard-to-reach communities' in South Yorkshire.

Pc Zuleika Payne

Pc Zuleika Payne, who has been a police officer for 24 years, has won the national Women in Policing Award at this year’s Police Federation Conference, held at the Bournemouth International Centre.

Ms Payne, who was awarded a Queen’s Police Medal last year, was chosen from six finalists and rewarded for her work which judges said has led to changes in the law.

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She said: “I am absolutely delighted to be the recipient of this award. I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to those involved in the decision making process and also my police colleagues.

“I am immensely proud that South Yorkshire Police have been recognised for the service we provide to the community day-in, day-out. This is becoming increasingly difficult as we are losing vast swathes of officers.”

After choosing a policing career over ballet, Ms Payne worked in a variety of policing and traffic roles before becoming a community officer.

Between 2003 and 2010, she organised and hosted two forced marriage conferences for her force. This resulted in an increase in reporting of these types of crime of between 40 and 50 per cent.

This piece of work attracted the attention of the Home Office, and Ms Payne was able to contribute to the consultation that led to the introduction of the forced marriage legislation.

She was chosen to lead on the new counter-terrorism Prevent initiative in Rotherham, as part of efforts to stop vulnerable people, especially the young, being lured into extremism or terrorist groups.

Her role has now been incorporated into South Yorkshire Police’s Vulnerable Persons Unit, where she works with groups groups including the NHS, further education colleges and local Mosques and Madrasahs.

Hayley Ayley, the National Women’s Reserve representative for the Police Federation of England and Wales said “It was an honour to be part of the judging panel and be able to judge the high standard of deserving female officers who have all, through true adversity or with clear passion and drive, developed and promoted women in policing.

“Zuleika has achieved so much both through the federation and publicly to help communities and show the true dedication of women in policing. We are truly inspired by her and her achievements.”