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Period 1921-1939

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1921

In London there was confusion between the two bodies of Women Police, the Women Police Service led by Mary Allen still maintained unformed patrols. The Commissioner decided to take action and sued the W.P.S. leading members for wearing a uniform resembling that of the Metropolitan Police Patrols. In Westminster Police Court it was agreed that they add red shoulder straps and change their name to the ‘Women’s Auxiliary Service’.

Miss Wyles WN 23 promoted Inspector in charge of the women in all Divisions north of the Thames was actively engaged in trying to get the C.I.D. to allow Women Police to assist by taking statements in sexual cases from girls when Miss MacDougal was not available. As a result, Mrs. Stanley saw the Commissioner and it was arranged that a certain number of picked women should go to Peel House for special instruction in statement taking and sexual offences.

1921
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1922

Following the Great War David Lloyd George, the Prime Minister, appointed a businessman, turned civil servant turned politician Sir Eric Geddes to head a new Committee on National Expenditure, to recommend deep cuts in public spending which was soon dubbed "The Great Axe" or ‘Geddes Axe’.

February – Mrs Stanley was handed instructions to disband the Women Patrols. After discussions it was agreed that contracts would not be renewed as they came due.

The women’s societies acted with an impressive act of solidarity as did the two women Members of Parliament, Lady Astor and Mrs Wintringham. The National Council of Women quickly organized a protest meeting of sixty-three societies.

Lady Astor M.P. open the debate on which hung the future of women police. Fair and graceful, in the plain black dress with its light lace collar, fearless in attack and swift in retort, she gave a factual account of the preventative work achieved by the Metropolitan Women Police Patrols winding up with a brilliant defence of the right of policewomen to form an essential part of the British Police Service. Mrs Wintringham and Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland followed her in support.

 

Mr. Shortt M.P. said in the House of Commons that Policemen's wives could do Women Police work.

Lady Astor retorted Police did not choose their wives for patrolling streets or escorting prisoners.

1922
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27th December 1922

Mrs Stanley no longer has a role and was dismissed. 20 Women Patrols remained and were posted to various areas of the Met. under the controls of the local Superintendents. Inspector Grace Dixon in charge of A.4.

Louise Pelling WN 133 was posted to Special Branch (SB) and Lillian Wyles WN 23 to C.I.D. as their Sex-Statement taker.

20 Women Patrols remained, it was agreed that the women would be posted to various areas of the Met. under the controls of the local Superintendents. Woman Inspector Grace Dixon in charge of their Welfare.

They would form the nucleus of a future place of women in the Met. Their numbers would be increased to 50 as and when finance was available, (not accomplished until the end of 1925). They would be given power of arrest and that they would be known as Women Police Constables.

27th December 1922
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19 April 1923

The first women officers signed the Attestation book, led by Sergeant Violet Butcher WN 76. The word Patrol was replaced by ‘Constable’.Bertha Clayton WN 174 was promoted to Inspector and given the job of sorting any problems that may arise with the remaining women who were at police stations under the command of the local Senior Officers.

19 April 1923
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December 1923

The first-time women are referred to as Constables in Police Orders.

December 1923
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1924

Bridgeman Departmental Committee report on the Employment of Policewomen.

1924
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1927

General Order issued, Women Officers must resign on marriage, but did not apply to those already employed and married.

1927
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1928

All women over 21, given right to vote.

1928
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1929

The Home Secretary gave authority for 100 women but that was not reached until 1938.

Centenary Parade of the Metropolitan Police in Hyde Park included the Women Police.

1929
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11 April 1930

Miss Dorothy Peto OBE WN 242. offered appointment as Staff Officer for Women Police. She insisted she would accept only if she were attested and she would be on probation.

She was placed in the Secretarial Dept. staffed by Civil Servants. Her brief was to examine the position and organisation of the women police. They had been promised an increase in numbers.

Miss Peto was not given a rank or uniform. Insp Clayden retires.

11 April 1930
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1931

New Conditions of Service were introduced which required women officers to resign on marriage.

Strength was –

  • 2 Inspectors – Violet Butcher WN 76 (Uniform) and Lilian Wyles WN 23 (C.I.D.)
  • 5 Sergeants
  • 47 Constables including 1 in Special Branch (Louise Pelling WN 133)

Uniform modified; collar and tie introduced and shorter skirts.

Refreshment period cut to 30 minutes.

August - A policewoman posted to Traffic point at King’s Cross motorists were most surprised – it made the newspapers.

1931
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1932

Lord Trenchard becomes Commissioner, he tries to extend Miss Peto’s probationary period, she refuses. Trenchard gives her rank of Superintendent of Women Police and her own Dept. A4 Branch.

Before Trenchard agrees to the augmentation he insisted that the women prove themselves – they were to be concentrated into the four districts of the Met. If they produced good returns he would add 100 to their numbers.The experiment was a success, but the increase proceeded at a slower pace than promised.

Woman Police Sergeant Burrows WN 201 was appointed to C. I. D.to help Inspector Wyles. She was attached to C.O. C.1. and worked from Vine Street. Three women Constables attached to C.I.D. at West End Central were trained to assist in statement taking. In 1933 they assisted in 508 cases.

1932
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1933

Introduction of Children and Young Persons Act 1933. All reports on juveniles were channelled through A.4. and the A.4. index on juveniles was started.

1933
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1934

Hendon Police College opened by the Prince of Wales (Edward VIII).

1934
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1935

The Royal Jubilee Review in Hyde Park - Women not allowed to march but put by Royal Box.

Silver Jubilee of George V. The Mall was closed - except for school children.

1935
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1936

Women Police attached to each Juvenile Court and to the Juvenile Bus service.

Pembridge Hall Section House opened.

1936
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1937

The Coronation of George VI.

WPS Stratton WN 191 posted to C.1. - assisted by WPC Walker WN 272 for observation relating to crime and disciplinary investigation. In this year they helped materially in the 'Flannel foot' investigation.

Women Police were authorised to take fingerprints.

1937
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1938

Wandsworth Section House opened for women.

1938
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1939

Outbreak of World War II. Married women allowed to re-join.

Establishment 153. Strength 128 uniform and 8 CID.

In rest of the country – Borough’s had 119 women officers.

Women Police dealt with refugees, evacuees, and enemy aliens.

They took their turn on duty at air raids.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth visited Pembridge Hall Section House.

1939