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Ruona spent 5 years on the NBCPA Executive Committee, 1 year as Secretary (2012 – 2013) and 4 years as Chair (2013 – 2017).

I caught up with Ruona in order to find out about her memories of being on the NBCPA executive committee and what she has been up to since stepping down as Chair in March 2017.

 

On her time as the chair of the NBCPA:

Ruona spent 5 years on the NBCPA Executive Committee, 1 year as Secretary (2012 – 2013) and 4 years as Chair (2013 – 2017).

What do you feel your main achievements were during this time?

RI: Some of the main achievements of the NBCPA during my period as Chair were:

  • Increase in membership of the Association;
  • Raised profile for the Association internally and externally through greater business focus on its activities which helped to support CPS business and also led to the CPS winning a number of Awards such as the Business in the Community Award for Public Sector Staff Network. The work on the NBCPA has led to my OBE Award in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, showing the importance that the CPS Managers attach to promoting equality and diversity in the workplace;
  • Development of excellent training programmes for all grades of staff including legal trainee development programme in 2013 and 2016 and staff training needs analysis;
  • International outreach for the Association (Hague trip) and also Anti-hate crime trip to Srebrenica in relation to genocides;
  • Personnel support for members leading to reduced stress, improved welfare and many positive outcomes and better job satisfaction;
  • Establishment of a Mentoring Co-ordinator role in 2013 and reinvigorating the NBCPA mentoring programme;
  • The development of staff through the training and mentoring support provided with many staff achieving promoting;
  • Successful mentoring of a number of EC members which led in turn to EC members achieving promotion and recognition through excellence awards and in one case a Queen’s Honours MBE Award;
  • Many successful NBCPA Conferences which helped to raise awareness of issues, improve support for victims and witnesses and improve confidence in the CPS through engagement and dialogue with BME communities, showcases for the rest of the CPS organisation for example Conferences on Female Genital Mutilation, Human Trafficking & Modern Day Slavery, Forced Marriages and Islamophobia;
  • Many successful community outreach events for instance work with Taskforce in London against girls and gangs, work with Girlchild Network Charity for empowerment of girls and eradication of the physical and sexual abuse of young girls which led to NBCPA raising funds to support the charity, work with the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust to raise awareness of the need for donors to the register from Afro-Caribbean backgrounds;
  • Disability, Domestic Violence and Anti- Homophobia Seminars, the outputs from which helped the NBCPA to respond to CPS reviews and to actively influence and shape policy development in each of these areas;
  • Establishment of a work experience co-ordinator role, a database for work experience supervisors and development of an improved work experience programme which has led to improvement in social mobility for those benefitting from the scheme;
  • Development of a disability advocates’ training programme to train members in disability issues and disability rights in the work place;
  • Closer working with other CPS Staff Networks which led to joint collaboration on projects such as Islamophobia Conference and Disability Advocates’ Training;
  • Helping to shape and influence employment and prosecution policy for instance contributed to a number of CPS restructuring reviews eg Refocussing CPS and helped to inform some of the decisions in those reviews;
  • Closer working with sister networks such as the Met Black Police Association and collaboration on events;
  • Closer working with Human Resources Directorate Inclusion Team which has brought many benefits for the Association and other Staff Networks such as training of more BME members and those of other protected characteristic groups to sit on recruitment panels, greater support for diversity development programmes, greater access to HR advice for dealing with personnel support issues, members taking part in reverse mentoring;
  • Introduction of voluntary subscription for members to support members and wider charitable aims of the Association;
  • Implementation of the CPS North West Schools’ Hate Crime Programme by the NBCPA in local schools and training of volunteers to deliver training in schools.

What were the main challenges?

RI: The main challenge for me was finding enough hours in the day to carry out my job as a Senior Specialist Prosecutor dealing with serious and complex cases and at the same time carry out my equally busy role as Chair. Many members of the EC faced similar challenges so it was always demanding trying to deliver on the objectives of the Association against this background. There were also health challenges for some EC members and in some cases family members. Another challenge was striking the right balance between being firm as the Chair in ensuring all the EC were carrying out their roles and what was expected of them, while trying to maintain good and lasting relationships with each of them.

What do you miss the most about your time spent on the NBCPA executive committee?

RI: I miss spending time discussing issues with some of the EC, HR and other Staff Networks who I developed close bonds and friendships with but who I no longer work with and who I do not get to see as often.

What do you hope your legacy in the NBCPA will be?

RI: I hope that the NBCPA will continue to be a Staff Network that actively supports its members through excellent training, mentoring and support and responds with compassion to their needs but at the same time which maintains a high profile and strong business focus supporting the CPS in its business priorities. I hope that the work experience and schools programmes grow from strength to strength.

In your view, what does the future hold for the NBCPA?

RI: The future is very bright for the NBCPA. We are very fortunate that the CPS Senior leaders and managers place a premium on promoting equality and diversity in the work place and they continue to support the work of the Staff Networks as they recognise the benefits that a good Staff Network can bring to the workforce. There are also excellent and highly committed individuals on the NBCPA’S Executive Committee who continue to make personal sacrifices to carry out their various roles and responsibilities. I attended the recent Conference on Mental Health as a member and I was very proud to be a member of the Association. The NBCPA always helps to raise awareness of important issues affecting BME and other communities. The speakers were excellent and the workshops very engaging. The Profile-in-Courage Award winner Wayne Marquis was an inspired choice, a very befitting winner of that award, an inspiration to us all. This Conference is an example of the way that the NBCPA can continue to maintain its relevance in the CPS. It can reach communities in a way that others in the Organisation may not be able to.

 

On her OBE:

Recently, Ruona was awarded an OBE for her services to law and order and in recognition of her work with the NBCPA and the influential role which she played in the development of CPS policies and initiatives (particularly in the area of hate crime).

What was your initial reaction when you received this news?

RI: I received this news on the same day I returned to London after attending my sister’s funeral ceremony and burial in Nigeria. I cried when I received the news. I was very surprised to receive the news and it was going from one extreme of emotions to another.

Have you already attended the award ceremony? If so, what was it like?

I attended the OBE Investiture Ceremony on Wednesday 11th October 2017. It was a lovely and overwhelming experience, one that will live with me all of my life. I met His Royal Highness, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William and he was very warm and nice to talk to. He spent time talking to each of us like we were the most important people in the room. I was in awe of him for the way he conducted the ceremony. He stood for about 90 minutes and seemed to have researched everyone and knew what to say and converse about with each recipient. There were at least 2 sports celebrities receiving awards in my ceremony: Adam Peaty, the Olympic swimmer and Justin Rose, the Golfer. Inside Buckingham Palace is absolutely stunning and beautiful. The pomp and pageantry during the ceremony was just great and it made me so proud to be British. My only regret was not being able to take photos of everything inside the Palace because mobile phones are not allowed probably just as well as we will probably all be filming everything and taking selfies if we could. Everything was choreographed to perfection with an orchestra playing beautiful music in the background. No one is allowed to clap or shout out like they do at graduation ceremonies. The ceremony is far too grand for that. The music in the background says it all.

 

As told by Ruona Iguyovwe

Interview conducted by Jamila Bernard (Communications Officer)