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Women Policing London 1914-2021

History of Met Women Police Officers

Two things were instrumental to the grudging acceptance of Women Police in the second decade of the 20th Century: Concern over the slave traffic and the advent of the First World War.

The strength of Police forces fell rapidly as men of all ranks left to join the Colours. Everywhere problems of order and decency in public places cried out for an urgent solution.

Faced with conditions which offered both a challenge and an opportunity, two separate schemes for the organisation and employment of women on police duties were promptly launched. The Women's Suffragette movements abstained from their militant activities to help the war effort.

In 1914 Nina Boyle advertised in 'The Vote' for women to offer themselves as 'Specials’, when Sir Edward Ward called on the nation for special constables. She called for recruits to work part time as 'Women Volunteer Police' (WVP. Sir Edward declared only men were suitable, Nina Boyle ignored him and carried on recruiting.

Meanwhile Miss Margaret Damer Dawson, a suffragette - was 'Head of Transport' of a committee formed by Chelsea people, who greeted and helped Belgian refugees escaping from the Germans. She had been involved in an incident whereby a couple of the refugees had been 'spirited' away by white slavers, she needed a group of women in uniform - women police in fact. She had commenced recruiting 'women police' in September 1914. When she learnt of Nina Boyle’s plans, they decided to join forces and Nina became her deputy. They became the 'Women Police Volunteers' (WPV). In February 1915 - Damer Dawson and Boyle fell out over the WPV being used to police a curfew enforced against women. A vote was taken, Boyle was defeated. Damer Dawson decided to drop the name 'Women Police Volunteers' and reformed the group as the 'Women Police Service' WPS. Later they became the Women's Auxiliary Service (WAS).

The Women Patrols were organised by the National Union of Women Workers (N.U.W.W.)Women Police Committee - now the National Council of Women, were the nucleus of the first Metropolitan Women Police NOT to be confused with the Women Police Volunteers begun by Nina Boyle and Damer Dawson, later to become the Women Police Service under Damer Dawson and Mary Allen.


Pre 1920s

Period 1921-1939

Period 1940-1959

Period 1960-1990

Period 1991-2010

Period 2011 to date

Compiled from MWPA Timeline and various documents and histories.

To submit corrections or additional information please send to

Sioban Clark


Metropolitan Women Police Association

December 2020