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Front entrance of the Main Building in the summer
Inspirational Edge Hill Alumni paving the way in the field of Law and Policing

We are proud of our alumni and their successes. Here we shine a spotlight on two inspirational women in the field of Law and Policing. Although they have studied at Edge Hill almost 90 years apart, they have gone on to make a huge difference in criminal justice and for the country as a whole.

Edge Hill graduate Lauren Poultney is the current Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police and gives us some insight into her role and her time spent studying here at Edge Hill.

Lauren Poultney, Chief Constable, South Yorkshire Police.

“I really enjoyed my time at Edge Hill, I studied here between 1992 and 1995. I lived in halls of residence for my first and third years and enjoyed the university campus lifestyle.

In my final year I was employed as a Residential Student Advisor so I gave practical and welfare support to other students in the halls, most of whom were first years. Edge Hill has a fantastic community atmosphere and it was a great choice for me.”

“My studies really opened my mind to critical thinking and developed my questioning skills, the broad range of content also developed my confidence to explore new issues and ideas.

My role as a Residential Student Advisor gave me some really valuable experience in both supporting and challenging others, and I was able to cite a number of relevant examples in my initial application to join the police.”

As the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, based in Sheffield, Lauren is responsible for the delivery of operational policing across the county, with 1.6 million residents, 6000 officers and staff and an annual budget of around £300m. 

Lauren Poultney, Chief Constable, South Yorkshire Police.

What are the duties of a Chief Constable?

“I have always been interested in public service, and I was inspired to join policing because I wanted to make a difference to my community. Over the last 25 years I have worked through the ranks of policing and have held a number of specialist roles.  My roles have included working across response, neighbourhood and investigative roles and I have been a Senior Investigating Officer, a Firearms Commander and a Public Order Commander. For the first 19 years of my career I worked for Humberside Police, transferring on promotion to South Yorkshire in 2017.

My days can be very varied.  I receive a report early each morning detailing the demand the force has faced over the last 24 hours, this includes information about both the volume and type of demand.  If there is a major incident that occurs then I am informed about that in ‘live time’. The work of policing is so broad that inevitably the demands of my role are too; I regularly meet with representatives from partner agencies such as the Crown Prosecution Service, His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service and Local Authorities, to ensure we are working together effectively at every level. 

Delivery of operational policing requires the effective running of the organisation, this means managing budgets and resources as well as complex IT systems and of course ensuring our most valuable asset, our people, are well-led, supported and valued for the incredible work they do.

In addition to my ‘day job’ I am also the National Police Chief’s Council lead for both Counter-Corruption and Problem Solving; these portfolios see me develop national practice in support of policing activity across England and Wales. I also sit on the Partnership Advisory Review Body of the Open University Centre for Police Research and Learning, and sit on the Editorial Board for the Police Journal (Sage Publications)”.

We have a tradition of inspiring great futures

Inspirational Alumna and a trailblazer of her time Helena Normanton attended Edge Hill between 1903-1905. Helena was one of the first women to be called to the Bar in England and Wales and was the first woman in England to set up practice as a barrister. She was also the first woman to lead the prosecution in a murder trial in an English court.

Helena Normanton

First Woman…

  • to be briefed in the High Court of Justice and the Old Bailey
  • to lead the defence in a murder trial
  • (one of two) to be appointed King’s Counsel at the English Bar

Who was Helena Normanton?

Helena Florence Normanton was born in London, the daughter of a piano maker. She won a scholarship to York Place Science School, Brighton and then trained to teach at Edge Hill College between 1903 and 1905.

She went on to London University and later lectured at both Glasgow and London Universities. Helena applied to train as a barrister initially in 1918, and again successfully in 1919, after the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 was passed.

Throughout her life, Helena Normanton was a campaigner for women’s rights and suffrage. She spoke and wrote about feminist issues including addressing the Women’s Freedom League. When she married she kept her surname and later fought to have a passport issued in her maiden name.

She campaigned for divorce reform and was president of the Married Women’s Association, later forming the Council of Married Women. After a long and pioneering career, she achieved so much and led the way for other women to follow in her footsteps.

Today, Edge Hill University has a hall of residence named in her honour.

Since 1885, we’ve been helping students to embark on truly inspirational journeys by creating access to knowledge and opening up opportunities.

September 13, 2023


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