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News Report Page 16 of 30
Publication Date:- 2018-02-10
News reports located on this page = 2.

Marking 100 years of the Women's Vote

Photo - DPCC Cllr Emily Spurrell

MERSEYSIDE'S Deputy Police Commissioner has marked 100 years since some women gained the right to vote by encouraging other young women to get involved with politics. Cllr Emily Spurrell was speaking at a 'Wonder Woman' event hosted by Edge Hill University marking the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage. On this day in 1918, the Representation of the People Act marked the 1st time that any women in the United Kingdom were able to vote, meaning for the 1st time, the country's MPs were elected by women as well as men. It was a change which sparked others. In 1928 another Act gave women the vote at 21, equal to men, and in 1969 the voting age for both sexes was lowered. The event, which was officially opened by the University's Pro Vice Chancellor for Student Experience Lynda Brady, aimed to celebrate the victory of those who campaigned for Votes for Women and asked what more needs to be done to empower women to reach their potential and break through barriers. It gave the Deputy Police Commissioner the opportunity to talk about her own experiences in politics and encourage other young women to pursue a career in public life. Emily said:- "I was delighted to support the Wonder Woman event hosted by Edge Hill University celebrating the victories of those early pioneers who campaigned relentlessly and put their own freedom, well being and safety on the line to fight for our right to vote today.  We have made huge strides forward over the last century, but there is still a long way to go. Sadly, being a woman in any field, but particular in politics, can still make you a target for abuse, vitriol and even threats. Over the years I have often been described as bossy, but I have tried not to take that personally. Our society encourages men to be authoritative and to show leadership, but in women it can all too often be branded as arrogance or self importance. I attended this event today to encourage other young women not to be deterred or put off if they face similar attitudes. My advice for the students I spoke to today was 'just say yes'. Put your hand up at every opportunity. Get involved. And don't worry if you are that lone voice in the room."

Emily recounted how she 1st got involved with politics at University, joining groups including the Feminist Society. The 30 year old told how after graduating she thought seriously about applying to become a Councillor and completed the application form, but at the last minute backed out. She said:- "I convinced myself that I wasn't ready, I didn't know enough about politics to put myself out there. And then, after the election, I suddenly thought to myself, 'I could have done that'. I was so cross with myself that I promised that wherever I ended up I would not let that opportunity pass me by again. So a year later in Liverpool I submitted an application form and was elected as a Councillor in Mossley Hill. And now 6 years later I am the Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner."

Emily also used the opportunity to talk about the progress and achievements of women in policing. She said:- "2015 marked 100 years of women in policing. Edith Smith was Britain's 1st ever female Police constable with official powers of arrest when she began patrolling the wartime streets of Grantham. Back then policing really was a man's world. I'm pleased to say that picture is very different today. Nearly 41% of Merseyside Police's Officers and staff are women and we have 2 excellent female Assistant Chief Constables. I'm also proud to say that Merseyside is just 1 of 3 areas across England and Wales to have a female PCC and Deputy PCC. We now have female leaders at some of the largest and most important policing organisations in the country; the Met, the National Crime Agency and the National Police Chiefs' Council. There are no limits to what women can achieve, in policing, in politics, in any sector and it is vital we continue to encourage young women to break down the barriers which still exist."

Pioneering research highlights dangers to firefighters

Photo - Anna Stec

LACK of UK firefighting regulation causing:- "alarmingly high" exposure to cancerous chemicals, warn scientists. New research by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has given rise to fresh calls for the Government to regulate firefighters' exposure to toxic gases in order to protect them from developing cancer as a result of their occupation.

In the 1st study of its kind, researchers have identified that firefighters' risk of developing cancer is increased by dangerously high levels of harmful chemicals that remain on their protective gear following exposure to smoke.

The study, published in Nature's Scientific Reports, found that skin absorption, rather than inhalation, is firefighters' leading cause of exposure to cancerous gases created during a fire, known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). UCLan researchers also discovered that the methods used to clean firefighters' protective clothing and equipment are not effectively implemented. This causes the protective gear to be contaminated for its next use, and means the length of time that skin is exposed to fire toxins is increased.

This was the 1st UK study to identify the occupational exposure of firefighters to PAHs, and to establish whether particular practices may adversely affect their health. Wipe samples collected from firefighters' skin, personal protective equipment, and work environment at 2 UK fire and rescue service Stations were examined for the presence of cancerous PAHs.

At present, neither exposure to toxic gases nor their long term effects on the health of firefighters are officially monitored in the UK, despite cancer deaths in firefighters growing steadily since the 1970s. Across the majority of Canada and the US, certain cancers are recognised as occupational diseases amongst firefighters, and the number of fire toxins they're exposed to is measured on a cancer risk scale.

The research concluded that the risk of developing cancer in UK firefighters caused by skin absorption of toxic chemicals is as high as 350 times above the level that would action immediate Government intervention in the US. Firefighting remains an unregulated occupation in the UK in terms of long term health protection, whereas other occupations, such as hairdressing, are considered high risk.

Anna Stec, lead researcher and Professor in Fire Chemistry and Toxicity at UCLan, said:- "We have found that contaminated clothing and equipment is causing firefighters to be exposed to alarmingly high amounts of dangerous chemicals, which puts them at a greater risk of cancer. It is time for change. If this level of toxic exposure was found in the US or Canada, Government would immediately put measures in place to monitor the health of firefighters and address this. Countries across Europe are also tackling this problem, with Norway, Sweden and Finland working toward identifying their own solutions. The UK must do more to tackle the growing issue of cancer in firefighters; we already know the incidence of cancer is higher amongst this profession compared to the general public, and that it is their leading cause of death. We have now identified skin absorption as their principal source of exposure to cancerous gases. Government needs to protect those working to save the lives of others by providing them with the best preventative medical care, education and support, whilst investing in guidance and research to ensure best practice is adhered to."

The full research paper can be downloaded via this link and we are also interested to know if this issue affects you or someone within your family. If yes, please let our newsroom know, via emailing your thoughts on the issue to:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com.

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