Alison

Alison Halford was born in Norwich in 1940. She was educated at Notre Dame Convent Grammar School, Norwich. After leaving school she served for three years with the Women’s Royal Air Force and came to London at the age of 22 where she joined the Metropolitan Police Force. A police officer for thirty years, she rose to the rank of Assistant Chief Constable in the Merseyside Police Authority by 1983. Alison was then the most senior woman in the British police service. She came to national prominence when she fought a long-running, and high-profile sexual discrimination case against her employer. In 1997 she won a phone-tapping case against the Home Secretary and the British Government in the European Court of Human Rights which forced a review of UK legislation. A full and lively account of this period in her life is given in her autobiography “No Way Up The Greasy Pole.” For the summary findings of the Human Rights case visit this page. Ironically, the Home Secretary who acted illegally in her case, Michael Howard, became Leader of the Opposition in Parliament for a short period. Alison joined the Labour Party and became active in local (Flintshire) politics when she retired from the police force. As a police officer membership of political parties was not appropriate. Alison’s political career was fast and effective and characterised by independence of mind and a determination to get to the bottom of things. Alison was a Councillor on Flintshire County Council and a Community Councillor on Hawarden Community Council. Alison is also a former member of the North Wales Police Authority. From the inception of the National Assembly for Wales in 1999 until May 2003, Alison served as the Assembly Member for Delyn, her constituency in Flintshire , North Wales. Alison was noted for her resolute stance on many issues and was warmly received by her constituents for her crusading role on their behalf and for promoting and protecting the interests of Flintshire and North Wales. In the key Assembly Audit Committee, Alison was noted for her rigorous pursuit of truth and openness. In fact a training film for civil servants expecting to attend committees was based on Alison’s tough questioning. Alison remained interested in policing issues although these were not a devolved matter, and argued forcefully for greater accountability and control in Wales. A brief dialogue in the press with the Chief Constable for North Wales focused on the massive rise (200%) in police precept over the five years up to 2003. The rise in local funding of police continues adding to the tax burden of low fixed income earners. Police precepts are set by Police Authorities and only susceptible to democratic control via the Council members on the Police Authority. Alison made a strong recommendation to the Richard Commission on these matters based on her Assembly and Police experience. Alison remains active in local politics and her views are regularly sought on important issues of the day, particularly when the press wants sound opinion on police matters. Alison was very supportive of the campaign to get the Mold Gold Cape returned to its proper home and remains actively involved with the steering group CAPE which was set up to achieve that goal. Click here to see more of Alison’s views on this cause . Alison is consistent in her support for the underdog, both literal and figurative. Alison has always been a firm friend of animals and is currently patron of North Wales Animal Rescue which has a base near Trelogan in Flintshire. She has supported and is a member of Greyhound Rescue. During her term of office at the Assembly, Alison was accompanied in her comings and goings by her pets. Currently Alison has three dogs, one long-haired Dachshunds, Fidget the last of the crew that travelled to and from Cardiff with her, Bunter a Pug, and Hufflepuff. Alison is a member of the RSPB and an avid bird watcher when the hurly burly of politics provides a window. One of Alison’s greatest pleasures is to partake in national and international bird-watching trips. Alison is particularly moved by the plight of Albatrosses and has supported this cauese financially. Alison is a member of the National Federation of Badger Groups. Golf is another of Alison’s pastimes, although the pressures of AM business meant that Alison came to play less frequently. Alison strongly supported the Ryder Cup bid by Wales and was delighted by its success. Alison gave strong backing to the Holywell Golf Club during the Foot and Mouth crisis which threatened the club with huge financial losses. Alison enjoys painting and has an eclectic choice of music. When time permits Alison also still enjoys the theatre and is a strong champion for Clwyd Theatr Cymru, the acknowledged English language National Theatre of Wales. Alison has always argued forcefully for openness and accountability and for the proper application of standards at all levels of government in Britain. This process of greater openness has been frustratingly slow to implement and there remain issues that still need resolution if the aspirations are to be met. Monitoring Officers may still play a dual role, advising an authority on a legal basis yet at the same time being supposed to protect the public interest …. who pays the piper calls the tune. Alison is currently completing a personal account of the first ever National Assembly for Wales, which promises to be an intriguing an informative view of dealings in this new voice for the people of Wales. The book will be avilable through this site and publisher permitting extracts will feature here too.