Senior officer abused over her hairstyle to become chief constable of Derbyshire Constabulary

Derbyshire Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Swann speaking after a residents' meeting at Chapel-en-le-Frith high school. Swann told residents that people refusing to leave the Derbyshire town of Whaley Bridge, where it is feared a damaged dam could burst, have been warned they are are putting their own lives and those of the emergency services at risk.
Derbyshire Constabulary's Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Swann, who previously endured online abuse, is to become chief constable of the force. (PA)

A senior police officer who endured “sexist and homophobic” abuse as she responded to a potential dam collapse last year is set to be made chief constable.

Rachel Swann, Derbyshire Constabulary’s deputy chief constable, led the emergency reaction to the Toddbrook Reservoir incident in August.

She made TV appearances as nearby Whaley Bridge was evacuated as a precaution and efforts were made to stop water from streaming past the damaged dam.

However, Deputy Chief Swann was subjected to online abuse over her hairstyle and told BBC News last year she was forced to quit social media.

A Royal Air Force Chinook transports sandbags as work continues to shore up the dam at Toddbrook Reservoir near the village of Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire, after it was damaged in heavy rainfall.
Deputy chief constable Swann led Derbyshire Constabulary's response to the Whaley Bridge flooding last year. (PA)

“The bit that astounded me was I could not believe that my mere existence could cause such a depth of feeling,” she said.

“I can take a bit of banter but then it became sexist and homophobic, and really, really insulting.

“The bit that really hurt was when people said I had no standards and I was letting policing down.

“Some of the comments were misogynistic and homophobic and the abuse I received has been recorded as a hate incident, in the same way it would be for the public or my officers and staff,” she added.

Rachel Swann is set to be confirmed as Derbyshire Constabulary's chief. (Derbyshire Constabulary)
Rachel Swann is set to be confirmed as Derbyshire Constabulary's chief. (Derbyshire Constabulary)

Emergency services and the RAF managed to prevent the dam from collapsing and residents were allowed to return to their homes.

Derbyshire Police said Deputy Chief Swann “led the Toddbrook Reservoir multi-agency emergency response”.

Now, she is set to become Derbyshire’s police chief, subject to confirmation by a police and crime panel.

“I’m absolutely delighted and feel extremely privileged to be the preferred candidate (for) the post of chief constable,” she said.

“Derbyshire Constabulary is a really good force with great people working in it and I look forward to working with the PCC (Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa) to deliver a good level of service to our communities.”

Deputy Chief Swann will take over from Chief Constable Peter Goodman, who steps down after a 32-year career in policing.

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