Sarah | Counter Terrorism Policing

If you see something that doesn’t feel right report it at In an emergency call 999.


Head of Communications

Sarah Shelley started her career in counter terrorism over 20 years ago, when she stepped into special branch in Manchester as a researcher. She’s now working as Head of Communications at Counter Terrorism Policing’s Headquarters.


“When I started at Greater Manchester Police in 2003, I was the first ever researcher and I was only the third police staff member to join the team, the eighth female, all the rest were men, which shows just how far we’ve come!

“My initial years were incredibly diverse and I was quickly involved in complex counter terrorism investigations including the murder trial of one of our colleagues who was killed on duty. “It was a really difficult time for all of us, but it gave me a really clear grasp on our mission, to keep the public safe and bring those who threaten our national security to justice.

“Having worked in counter terrorism for over two decades, I’ve seen huge changes to how policing responds to the threat, including the development of regional counter terrorism units following the 7/7 bombings and the key role our partnerships play.

“I’ve seen the Counter Terrorism Policing network grow, evolve and adapt in how it protects our communities; playing a part in that is a privilege.

“My career path has been a diverse one and I’ve been lucky to work in a range of roles, including Head of Operational Development in the North West and now in our HQ in communications.

“When you work in policing, the opportunities are vast and you learn something new every single day, that’s why I’ve stayed so long!

“Whilst I’m talking in clichés, I’ll also talk about the people I work with, who have an incredible shared passion and commitment for the work we do. People want to be on top of their game, because what they do really matters, there is a direct line of sight from our work to the safety of the public – which is a great thing to get out of bed for in the morning.

“Things have certainly changed for women working in policing since I started my career. There are more of us in senior roles, the environment is more supportive and more flexible to enable people to be parents and employees and the culture is far more inclusive however, there is always more we can do.

“Young people need to see policing as a career option for them, women in policing need to be confident that promotion opportunities apply to them and we all need to think about how we inspire the people around us.

“We have to keep striving for change and not become dormant, I’m personally really passionate about the importance of creative and dynamic recruitment processes that try to build on these principles. A workforce that has opportunities for everyone.

“I’ve got a lot of moments I’m proud of from my career, but nothing makes me prouder than when a colleague gets the recognition they deserve, sharing success with a team is a fantastic feeling. I also feel proud to work for an organisation which is absolutely people focused, on both its own people and the public.

“On International Women’s Day I’ll be thinking about the women who have fought for us, and in particular our grandmothers who paved the way for the opportunities we have today, at home and at work.

“I’ll also be thinking about the next generation and my son and daughter, who both believe in the importance of equality and who don’t see ‘difference’ as a negative but as a vital part of a balanced world.”