When I joined the Brighton Police in 1958 there were only about eight policewomen working in the town. They were in their own department and were mainly used for any offences against women or children.
There hours of work were different to their male colleagues with them working just 90% of the total hours worked by the men. Their pay reflected this as they received 90% of a male colleagues pay.
Their work was more specialised than many of the male officers and they were all up to a very high standard of police work special to their department.
Like their male colleagues their department recruited more officers as the years passed and by the time we amalgamated their numbers had doubled. Quite often their work took them into dangerous areas of crime. They often worked closely with the CID as they did with other squads that were set up for various crime problems.
In the late 1950’s and early 60’s drugs started to rear their ugly head, not the type of drugs that are popular today but nevertheless they were drugs that had a far reaching effect on the body. The popular drugs at this time were ‘purple hearts’ and they gave the taker extra strength for a short period while they were under the influence.
The policewomen were used extensively in pubs and clubs where these drugs were known to be circulating resulting in a number of arrests. Senior officers were often very pleased with the results and firmly believed that they had the drug problem firmly under control. Little did they know that in years to come the drug scene would explode to the vast problems that every police force now sadly, encounters.
In the late 60’s and early 1970’s policewomen started to work on the beats and as the Federation Representative in Brighton at this time I voiced my disapproval and brought to the notice of the most senior officers the dangers of this practice. I had visions of policewomen being seriously assaulted, including sexually and possibly raped. Fortunately my fears were totally dispelled as none of these problems occurred at this time.
A new era
There were a number of assaults but very few and so started a new era for the policewomen of Brighton and of course for Sussex too. These days’ policewomen work the same as their male colleagues and are certainly on a par with them.
Who could have foreseen the changes that were going to befall the Policewomen of today? Today’s female police work bears little resemblance to that worked by the women way back in the 1950’s.
The policewomen who were serving in Brighton on the day before amalgamation in December 1967
Inspector Kate Morgan, Sergeant Kate Stemp and there was one vacancy for another sergeant.
The policewomen constables
S. Shiner, J. Oram, P. Warren, G. Lanfrachi, P. Wickens, C. Wiseman, J. Joyce,
V. Edgington, C. Poulton, J. Southwell, D. Page, G. Tee, M. Bourton and S. Fowle.
Apologies if I have left anyone out.
Each and everyone worked hard and there was no doubt about just how efficient and highly respected they were by the Senior Officers at that time. A number of the constables were promoted in later years and richly deserved their promotions
A very quick story that happened in the early 1960’s; I used to play darts and was selected to represent the force, with others in an annual indoor competion with the other local police forces. The venue was, I think, Maidstone in Kent.
Pat left us red faced
You always had to travel by your own car and were later paid expenses for the petrol. On this occasion there were four of us in this car. We had had a reasonable day of successes and after the prize-giving at the end of the day. We went to the car for the journey back to Brighton. Among our number was a very experienced policewoman. It wasn’t long before someone told a joke, then another. The policewoman said ‘Oh I have one’ Well, policemen young or otherwise have just about seen or heard of just about every word in the dictionary But; these jokes told by Pat left us red-faced and choking with laughter. That set her off and she was telling jokes virtually all the way back to Brighton, with our faces as red as a beetroot as well as almost choking with laughter. There were three policemen completely under the spell of this woman’s jokes. I have never heard of anything like it before or since.
This policewoman Pat was certainly one of the characters of the Police Force in those days. It is true to also say that she was a very good policewoman too. She stood no nonsense from anyone as you can imagine.