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09 October 2019
Cleveland Police had no expectations going into last year's Lloyds Bank National Business Awards, but, as Head of Information Management Maria Laden told us when we caught up with her, winning the Experian Data Excellence Award was vital for changing perceptions of the police force as an innovative organisation that the public could trust.
Q. What was the initial motivation behind entering the National Business Awards?
A. We had actually never heard of the awards before. We were working with our partner agency to create our solutions, and they were so impressed – data is a massive issue for us – they invited us to sign up for the awards.
We had no expectations, even though we won the Data IQ award a few months before, because the standard is so high. It was amazing to be recognised by industry experts – police forces usually only get bad publicity so entering was a chance to change that.
Q. We're approaching the awards night in November – can you tell us a bit about the ceremony last year?
A. Two of us attended the ceremony last year. It was, in a word, awesome. It felt particularly important as a public sector organisation – we felt as if our presence there was a bit of a rarity.
We knew we had incredibly strong opposition, so it was never an expectation we would win. But we were really proud of our product, which has made a fantastic difference to police data and the resource challenges we all face.
It was an amazing night, and a privilege to share the stage with the other winners – particularly, from my perspective Jayne Anne-Gadhia, and her work helping women onto boards – with all their tenacity, and focus and the changes they've helped create in their industries.
We were pinching ourselves when we won, it was amazing.
Q. How has business been since your win?
A. Entering the National Business Awards is not about gain – Cleveland Police is not a profit-making organisation – it's about sharing experiences. Since every police force has issues with data quality, a lot of forces around the country have contacted us to learn more about the initiative, and three have signed up with our partner agency to adopt it and adapt it to their needs. Every police force to have been in touch has been blown away, and we've since been asked to present the solution at an intergovernmental forum.
Q. Do you have any words of advice for this year's finalists?
A. Entering the National Business Awards is a good thing because, more than other sectors, the police force relies on public trust and public confidence. By competing and beating private industry – particularly in relation to technology – we have gained public confidence and generated interest in the police. It also created confidence within the police force, and helped Cleveland take the lead in data.
The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards ceremony takes place 12th November at Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London. Join this year's finalists, sponsors, judges and Britain's business leaders for an unparalleled networking experience at a glamorous black-tie gala, where you'll hear from astronaut Major Tim Peake in an unforgettable keynote speech.