Lisa Theaker

Assistant Chief Constable of Cleveland Police, Teesside

Sector: Policing

When Lisa Theaker joined the police force, she wanted to make a difference for women in policing. Today she is assistant chief constable of Cleveland Police. 

Where do you call home? 

I am a proud Teessider. 

Tell us about your role?  

My role is assistant chief constable of Cleveland Police, responsible for the operational delivery of policing in Cleveland.  

How did you get to where you are today? 

My journey to where I am was never a straight path. I didn’t know what I wanted when I left education and I fell into policing almost by accident. Very few people I know followed a career path from the age of 16-18 they had set for themselves. The key for me was I knew I wanted a career which gave me options and variety if I did well. 

Once I joined the police, I made a promise to myself that I’d work hard to be the best I could be. I’d have made the same promise if I’d have started any career. If you work hard and show passion for what you do, good things will happen. There’s no secret formula for success – it all boils down to hard work, consistency and a bit of luck. 

What struggles or obstacles did you face along the way? 

Everybody has struggles and you will too. Our obstacles will be different to each other, but rest assured we all have them. The key is how you react to them. 

My advice is to have a support network around you that you can lean on and talk through your obstacles. Remember, though, it’s a two-way street – be a good friend when you see someone else struggling. We need to support each other. Madeline Albright, the great American diplomat, once said: “There’s a special place in hell reserved for women who don’t help other women”. And she’s right! 

Describe the moment you first got a feel for success? 

I got my lightbulb moment relatively early in my policing career. I joined the firearms department and successfully trained as a firearms officer – one of three females in a department of 90 officers. I was the inspector leading that department and knew at that point I could and would make a difference for women in policing. I knew before joining the department that women could do everything that men could but passing the firearms course meant I proved it. 

My first real feeling for success was following a murder enquiry where I was the senior investigating officer. I remember vividly being stood outside the court room with the victim’s family and the tannoy sounding for those involved in the case to return to the court room. My heart was racing. When the jury foreman stood and delivered the guilty verdict, I knew at that 

point my role and job was worthwhile – supporting victims and public service. 

Do you have any advice to aspiring young females? 

Women on Teesside are forged in the whitest of heat and we are the equal of anywhere else in the country. My advice is to be proud of who you are and where you’re from. We’re used to this part of the world being talked down, so do the opposite – talk it up! 

Teesside built the world with its steel. My advice to you is to be bold in what you want to achieve and tell people. Some poor souls who don’t understand will laugh, ignore them. There are people out there who will do the opposite and help you. Seek them out. I promise you they’re out there. 

What advice would you give to your younger self?  

Ask for help, it is a sign of strength. 

What three words inspire you and encourage a positive path?  

Just do it. 

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