Celebrating 100 years of women police officers and the changing face of the force
As their hemlines have risen and skirts have been replaced by trousers, so their duties have radically increased from when the first female cops drew public stares
Women have policed our streets for 100 years yet their look has been anything but uniform, reports the Sunday People.
As their hemlines have risen and skirts have been replaced by trousers, so their duties have radically increased.
The first three female cops drew public stares as they took to the beat in Grantham, Lincs, on November 27, 1914.
It was wartime and the officers, teased by male colleagues and with no powers of arrest, were ordered to keep drunks in line, prostitutes off the street, children safe and break up couples having sex.
In London, the Met set up female patrols to deter women from attempting suicide – a crime at that time – and prevent fortune-telling.
The officers were allowed into brothels, nightclubs and betting houses but had to call in male colleagues if they witnessed a crime.
They also met Europeans leaving trains to ensure they were not snatched by pimps or conmen.
For years women officers faced many restrictions.
They were barred from taking fingerprints until 1937, could not stay in the Met after marriage until 1946 or handling dogs until the 70s.
The first female driving instructor was not until 1988.
Their look has altered greatly too – in 1967 the Queen Mother’s dressmaker Norman Hartnell designed a new Met WPC’s uniform – but they were not allowed to wear trousers, except at night in winter, until the late 80s.
Today Britain has about 41,000 female officers, with Met Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick the highest ranking.
The first female chief constable, Pauline Clare in Lancashire, was just 19 years ago.
Women now have the same powers as male officers and have made the same sacrifices.
In 2012 Manchester constables Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone were killed in a gun and grenade attack by crazed Dale Cregan .
PC Sharon Beshenivsky, 38, was killed trying to stop armed robbers in Bradford in 2005 and PC Yvonne Fletcher, 25, was shot dead during a protest outside the Libyan Embassy in London in April 1984.