The Daily Mail’s first female chief crime correspondent, and new chairman of the Crime Reporters Association, has said she hoped her example sends a message that “these jobs are not off limits” to young women.
Rebecca Camber is the first woman in nearly 30 years to head up industry group the CRA following her appointment in January – and only the second ever female chairman in its 74-year history.
Last month, she became the first woman to lead the Daily Mail’s crime desk.
The appointment of Jemma Buckley as a crime reporter soon afterwards created a third milestone: the Mail’s first all-female crime desk and “probably the first in Fleet Street”, she told Press Gazette.
The CRA was founded in 1945 with the aim of fostering good relations between crime reporters and the police.
Camber (pictured) said there were only a handful of women in the group when she joined in 2009, but out of its 46 members today, 12 are women.
Sylvia Jones, the Daily Mirror’s first female crime correspondent, was the first woman to join the CRA in 1983 and its first female chairman in 1992, although at that time there was still a sitting male president as well.
She faced so much hostility from the CRA’s members when she tried to join that the Mirror threatened to sue the body under sex equality legislation.
Camber told Press Gazette her appointments were important for a number of reasons.
“We’ve got a female Scotland Yard Commissioner, we’ve got a female Prime Minister, why not a woman chairing the Crime Reporters Association?
“It sends a really strong message to women and girls aspiring to join the profession that these are jobs they absolutely can do.
“That’s equally true about a woman becoming the chief crime correspondent at the Daily Mail. It shows these jobs are not off limits at all, even where traditionally there has been a perception that it was a bit of a boys’ club in crime reporting.”
Camber said there has been a “broad change” in the industry’s attitude towards women in recent years “and certainly within the Mail”.
She joined the Mail as a general news reporter in August 2005 before moving on to the crime desk in 2009.
“There are more women throughout the newsroom now – there are women on our newsdesk, we have a female defence and security editor, Larisa Brown for example,” Camber said.
“Defence is another specialism where historically there have been less women in that field.”
Camber said the gender gap between men and women in crime reporting had not been lost on Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick, who has been known to say: “I’d like to take a question from a woman now,” at press briefings.
But, she said: “In crime, times have changed dramatically from the days when a CRA briefing might have been a bunch of white, middle-aged men sitting in a pub, having a chat.
“Newsrooms have changed and police forces are changing too, although we all still have work to do. Even a few years ago you might have looked around a courtroom or at Scotland Yard and thought ‘there aren’t many women here’.
“We’re still fewer in the room but we’re catching up, and it’s exciting to be part of that change.”