First woman takes up senior role with South Yorkshire Police

New South Yorkshire Police ACC Jo Byrne
New South Yorkshire Police ACC Jo Byrne

The first woman to hold one of the most senior policing positions in South Yorkshire has started her role.

Assistant Chief Constable Jo Byrne spent 27 years working for West Midlands Police, where she rose up the ranks from pounding the streets dealing with everyday crimes to eventually becoming a Chief Superintendent where she was responsible for overseeing the policing of the riots in Birmingham in 2011.

Her promotion to South Yorkshire’s third highest policing position gives her responsibility for ‘protective services’ taking overall charge of policing and firearm operations and public protection issues including child sexual exploitation.

ACC Byrne, who lives in Derbyshire, said she is ‘proud’ to have been appointed to the top policing post - and impressed with the force’s reputation for tackling serious crimes.

She said recent revelations about how the force investigated the Hillsborough disaster, where it emerged that police officer statements had been altered to deflect blame for the tragedy in which 95 football fans lost their lives in 1989, had not put her off accepting the job offer.

“South Yorkshire is a force with a very good reputation and is clearly very capable of dealing with serious crimes, serious incidents and tackling issues that affect communities,” she said.

“I am aware of the Hillsborough allegations but that does not affect me wanting to be here.”

The new recruit said one of the biggest issues affecting her new force was funding.

“As with all services, not just the police, there are challenges around funding, and we have to deliver an efficient and effective service for South Yorkshire - managing critical incidents that will happen while balancing the needs of policing communities, keeping a good visibility and making sure we are working with and for communities.”

ACC Byrne said she hopes colleagues in the force see her as a role model.

“I have met lots of female colleagues here already and can see a lot of them on the same journey as me, so I want to be a good role model for them but for male colleagues too. I have been given opportunities and made opportunities and have never been afraid to try new things and stretch myself,” she said.