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Pre 1920s

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June 1914

Deputation of National Council of Women and other women's organisations to the Home Secretary urging the appointment of Women Police

June 1914
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4 August 1914

Britain declares war on Germany.

4 August 1914
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1914

Sir Edward Ward called for 20,000 Specials to sign up. He refused to allow women to become Specials – his reply was that the Home Office had instructed him to raise able-bodied men.

1914
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August 1914

The Women Volunteer Police is formed by Nina Boyle.She is joined in September by Margaret Damer Dawson of the Chelsea Head of Transport (they had been rescuing Belgium women and girl refugees from white-slavers at the railway stations). This group wore uniform.

The men objected to the Women Police groups because they said women should not hear or see any objectionable or indecent things - which was why the women were not only not on juries, they were not permitted to stay in court to listen to any indecency cases.

August 1914
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September to October 1914

The second group was the National Union of Women Workers (now National Council of Women) who set up the Women Police Central Patrol Committee at 105 Victoria Street SW1, Mrs. Creighton as President. They wore no uniform beyond a plain dark coat, skirt and hat with the initials N.U.W.W., and an armlet, with the same initials

Voluntary Patrol Committees in each of the principal Boroughs within the Metropolitan Police District; and Mrs Stanley was appointed Patrol Organiser for the whole area, within which she selected and trained Patrol Leaders, enrolled at voluntary patrols, and helped each group to develop their work in accordance with local needs and opportunities.

She was fortunate in having the approval of two successive Police Commissioners, the first of whom was Sir Edward Henry and the second Sir Neville McCready, who succeeded him in 1918.

Their immediate purpose was the raising of a nationwide body of part-time volunteers, somewhat on the lines of the Special Constabulary, for duty in streets and parks, and around military camps. Throughout the First World War, thousands of women from all walks of life put in a two-hour tour of patrol duty, not less than twice a week, all year round, and dealt with stray girls, begging children, tipsy servicemen, amorous couples in public places, and all the other situations incidental to an evening beat in war time.

A small group of women experienced in social or other work was chosen to train as Patrol Organisers and given a fortnights intensive course in London which included talks by the magistrates clerk, a police officer, police court missionary and others, all bearing on the problems and the limitations which the voluntary patrols were likely to encounter on the streets and in the courts. Within a few months, 26 organisers had been appointed.

The local organisation of the patrol movement committees were set up by the local branches of the National Council of Women. More than 500 voluntary patrols enrolled, the movement gradually spreading throughout the country where camps had been set up.

One woman in each area was selected as a Patrol Leader, a Patrol Organiser was sent down from London to help in launching the scheme, train the Patrols and map out their field of work, the local patrol leader then took over the coordination of all the work of the patrols,

They were instructed in Common Law, their objectives, albeit more of a moral policing was achieved by watching and causing ‘embarrassment’.

The Voluntary Patrols had no police powers. In their pockets they carried an Authorisation Card signed by the Commissioner stating that the holder was a voluntary patrol and entitled to call upon the police for aid in time of need.

September to October 1914
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Early 1915

Nina Boyle and Damer Dawson fall out. Women Police Service is reformed by Margaret Damer Dawson without Nina Boyle. She is joined by Mary Allen.

Early 1915
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28 January 1916

Women typists "entered the portals of Scotland Yard for the first time in the history of the Metropolitan Police." The typists were not sworn in as Constables, but they were on the Civil List and took the places of Constables who ordinarily performed clerical work and had joined the forces.

"Is there any possibility of women being employed as Police Constables?" a Daily Express

representative asked a Scotland Yard official.

"No, not even if the war lasts fifty years," was the reply.

28 January 1916
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June to July 1916

Sir Edward Henry (Commissioner Metropolitan Police) employed as paid workers eight National Council of Women - Women Patrols to investigate and report on cinemas in the Metropolitan district.

The Commissioner called for reports from Divisional Superintendents on the work of

the Voluntary Patrols; and on the strength of these reports, he decided to take advantage of the provisions of the newly passed Police, Factories (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act which enabled the pay of whole-time policewomen in England to become chargeable to the Police Fund.

The Commissioner invited Mrs. Stanley, the London Patrol Organiser to arrange the employment and training of 30 Patrols on duty officially in Hyde Park, Victoria, King's Cross, and Euston. They were to work 4 hours a day, 6 days a week. Since Mrs. Stanley could not spare the necessary time to run the training course, she invited the cooperation of the Bristol Training School and Miss Peto went up to London to carry through the class instruction, whilst she concentrated on training on the beat.

They were named the Special Patrols, they wore the same dark clothing as the voluntary patrols but their armlets were replaced with blue and white armlet of the regular police.

Classes took place in Great Smith Street, Westminster in a committee room belonging to the National Union of Trained Nurses. The women selected for paid patrol duty, attended there in the daytime and went out on street duty in the evenings; they patrolled Hyde Park, Piccadilly and railway terminuses.

They did not get the power of arrest - instead they got a constable to escort them through the streets and make any arrests that were necessary.

June to July 1916
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19 July 1916

Commissioner Sir Edward Richard Henry sent letter to the Home Office for permission to experiment in the part-time employment of women on police duties.

19 July 1916
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21 January 1917

Letter requesting £400 annual subsidy to cover the costs of the Women Patrols – requested by Commissioner as the Special Patrols.

21 January 1917
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10 March 1917

Mrs. Sofia Stanley was appointed Supervisor of Special Patrols, her title being approved as it was not a Police title. When she took over there were 37 Special Patrols in Central London and 29 in the suburbs, most of them working 1 or 2 nights a week. But by the end of the year she had increased the numbers to 55 in Central London and they were working full time.

10 March 1917
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1 April 1917

Two full-time Women Patrols appointed for work in Leicester Square with the Metropolitan Police.

1 April 1917
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June 1917

All work done by Women Special Patrols with the Metropolitan Police made whole-time. Forty employed at the rate of 30 shillings for a 42-hour week plus 6-shilling war bonus.

An unlimited number of part-time women employed for miscellaneous duties paid by the day

June 1917
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24 September 1917

Letter from Commissioner informing NUWW he will pay Mrs Stanley 42 shillings a week

24 September 1917
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October 1917

Four Women Patrols and a Patrol Leader employed with the Metropolitan Police at Holton Heath Cordite Factory at the cost of the Admiralty.

October 1917
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November 1917

Nine Women Patrols with a Patrol Leader employed at Woolwich Arsenal with Metropolitan Police at the cost of the War Office.

November 1917
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31 October 1917

Letter requesting that Commissioner pays for overcoats for the Special Patrols

31 October 1917
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March 1918

The Commissioner asked Mrs Stanley to supply him with regular monthly reports on the work of her patrols. She produced efficient area by area assessments. She told how her patrols warned couples of unseemly behaviour in Hyde Park in suggestive attitudes. No resentment seems to have been shown to them.

March 1918
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Summer 1918

During the summer the Home Office and the Ministry of Munitions began discussing the feasibility of appointing Home Office controlled women police patrols. A committee was set up.

Summer 1918
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30 August 1918

The Committees papers were sent to the Commissioner at Scotland Yard insisting that something be done urgently. The Commissioner had more pressing worries than women - his men were out on strike and columns of them were marching down Whitehall.

11,000 officers of the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police went on strike while Sir Edward Richard Henry was on leave.Commissioner resigns.

30 August 1918
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4 September 1918

New commissioner appointed – Lt. Gen. Sir Cecil Macready.

4 September 1918
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2 October 1918

Commissioner submits his proposals for women officers in the Met Police to the Secretary of State at the Home Office.

2 October 1918
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3 October 1918

Daily Mail “A force of Women police is to be created for London - officially recognised - under the control of the Commissioner and subject to the same discipline as the men. This is another break through by women of that long line of positions that were assumed only to be fitting for men.

Women are likely to be firm and efficient constables .... Our urban life will be cleaner by the presence of the woman constable. In the woman constables dealing with the minor male offender against the law, she is likely to be less lenient than the policeman, and to be less inclined to 'look the other way'. Man is apt to be merciful with man - and woman. Women will not be cajoled. When a woman has a sense of duty, she is inflexible”.

3 October 1918
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9 October 1918

Secretary of State generally approves proposals and asks for full details.

9 October 1918
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18 October 1918

Commissioner submits details of proposed ‘experimental formation of a body of Women Police’ – Strengths, Pay and conditions.

18 October 1918
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11 November 1918

Armistice signed - WWI ends. Men return wanting employment.

Many women for the first during WWI came out of Domestic service into a wide range of jobs.

11 November 1918
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14 November 1918

Letter from the Secretary of State, Home Office, approving ‘experimental formation of a body of Women Police’.

14 November 1918
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16 November 1918

Commissioner writes to the Women Patrol Committee of the National Union of Women Workers, informing them that the Secretary of State has sanctioned the formation of a body of women patrols under his direct control and terminating his existing arrangement of paying the N.U.W.W. to provide patrols. Also offering Mrs Stanley the post of Superintendent of the new body.

Daily News reports Metropolitan Police are recruiting Women Patrols. Aged 35 to 38, 5’4”, well read, writing legible, physically fit, no dependant children. 30 shillings a week plus 12 shillings War Bonus. Accommodation provided at 10 shillings a week.

16 November 1918
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16 November 1918

Commissioner invited Mrs Carden 0BE, who was the Hon. Sec. of the Central National Council of Women Patrol Committee, to sit on the selection board for the appointment of women recruits at Scotland Yard.

16 November 1918
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21 November 1918

Letter from NUWW informing Commissioner that Mrs Stanley accepts post of Superintendent.

21 November 1918
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22 November 1918

Police Orders – Informs officers – the Secretary of State has sanctioned the formation of a body of women patrols under his direct control.

22 November 1918
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23 December 1918

Police Order setting out terms and Conditions of Women Patrols.The new body was to be designated the Women Police Patrol Division with authorised strength of

  • 1 Superintendent (Mrs Stanley)
  • 1 Assistant Superintendent
  • 10 Patrol Leaders for Sergeant duties
  • 100 Police Patrols

Pay was low, and no pension rights were given. Their contracts were to be on a yearly ‘experimental’ basis, after a 3-month probation period - but they were not to be called women police - McCready objected to that - they were to be called Metropolitan Women Police Patrols - they were not sworn in, nor were they given the power of arrest. The only real difference now was that instead of being employed by an outside body – the NUWW - they were employed by the Commissioner.

The first women were recruited from the' Special Patrols', although many in the second batch were from the Women Police Service.

23 December 1918
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30 December 1918

The first Metropolitan Police Womens Patrols began their training (Monday after Christmas).

The recruits entered the training school at Beak Street - 2 weeks later they transferred to Peel House where they were taught police duty, first aid and foot drill.

The training was over five weeks on the same lines as the male recruits.The Superintendent in charge reported that they proved to be good pupils.

Mrs Sofia Stanley, Warrant No. 1 was made Superintendent A.4. (Women Police) Dept. in charge and assisted by Mrs Elinor Robinson Warrant No.2.

30 December 1918
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17 February 1919

21 Women signed their year’s contract.

Police Orders – lists those who finish training and began patrolling without uniform.

3 were made sergeant straight away and given a third of London to supervise. Grace Russell WN 17, Patty Alliott WN 3 and Lillian Wyles WN 23 was given Central London and the East End.

Now their male colleagues showed their true colours. Suddenly these women were seeing the wholesale bribery that had been going on - and didn't like it. They took no part and refused to be lenient. The men often insulted them and told the women to 'get back to their wash-tubs'.

August - Woman Patrol Healy WN 58 dismissed - found twice sitting down talking to male officer

December - Woman Patrol Mathews WN 87 required to resign – absent from Section House without leave.

17 February 1919
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17 May 1919

Six Women Patrols appear in uniform for the first time at Westminster Abbey at the Service of Remembrance to Metropolitan Police Officers killed in the Great War (WWI).

17 May 1919
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December 1919

Extract from the Commissioner’s Report - December 1919

Women Patrols ……….. enough has been seen of their work to more than justify their existence, and during the coming year it will be possible to form a decided opinion as to their permanent continuance as a portion of the Metropolitan Force.

Return of Work, 2nd June to 30th November 1919

Police Court Charges
Total 147
Miscellaneous enquiries 29,135

Persons Cautioned 9,448

NOTE - during the month of November only about 40 Woman Patrols could be employed as winter overcoats were not available.

December 1919
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1920

Police Orders instructs all supervising Officers that they must utilise the Women Patrols.

112 employed women police in the Met.

Only 126 women police in the rest of England and Wales.

1920