Published Wednesday, 12 March 2014
DCC Judith Gillespie with Barbara Stephenson. (© Pacemaker)
On Wednesday, the UK's Senior Women in Policing Conference, was taking place in Belfast for the first time.
DCC Gillespie said hosting the event before she steps down at the end of the month was a "a very fitting way to finish".
Ms Gillespie became Northern Ireland's first female DCC in 2009. She has served as a policewoman for 32 years, originally with RUC and then with the PSNI.
She was considered a frontrunner to succeed Matt Baggott as Chief Constable before her retirement was announced.
"It's a lovely way to finish my career as deputy and as the most senior woman in the PSNI," she said.
In January a row erupted when Justice Minister David Ford attempted to change the criteria for hiring the new Chief Constable, following Mr Baggott's departure in autumn.
He sought to remove a necessary requirement that candidates should have served two years outside Northern Ireland, which could have made her and other senior PSNI officers eligible for the post, but this was met with fierce political opposition and was overruled.
But, the deputy chief said on Wednesday, she had decided to go in the knowledge of the proposed changes.
"I said at the time that I knew there was a consultation process underway," she said.
"And I decided to retire on my own terms and in my time."
It would be very hard to top those milestones in my career and I think it's always good to quit while you are on a high and that's my reasoning now.
Judith Gillespie, outgoing Deputy Chief Constable
Ms Gillespie credited her role in delivering the World Police and Fire Games as well as policing the G8 Summit, UK City of Culture events in Derry-Londonderry and the all Ireland Fleadh as recent career highlights.
But she also stressed her pride in balancing her work with family life.
"I hope the legacy I leave is that women will see that they can achieve high rank within the police service, within the PSNI, and they can still also have a life.
"And that's probably my greatest achievement - to have a family life, to be a relatively normal person and to enjoy a fantastic career within the PSNI and be a role model to other women, that's the biggest achievement of all."
Also speaking at the event was Barbara Stephenson from the American Foreign Service Institute, who told those in attendance there was no room for complacency in efforts to ensure more women obtain top roles in public life.
"I know my own organisation is struggling with a stalling of women moving into the senior ranks and I notice we don't have a senior police woman officer to move up right behind Judith," the diplomat commented.
"It is a struggle still for women in public service in that we do need to stay mindful about solving the problems that keep women from rising to the top of the ranks - it's not happening automatically."
At a recent Policing Board meeting, ACC Alistair Finlay, who coordinated last year's G8 leaders summit, was appointed interim Deputy Chief Constable.
The appointment process for a new Deputy Chief Constable is scheduled to be completed by the end of August 2014.
© UTV News