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Linda Pinckney

Wt No. 1919

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The History of Met Women Police Officers

Women Policing London 1914 – 2018


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.

June 1914

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

4 August 1914

Britain declares war on Germany.


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.

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.

September 1914

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.

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.

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.

June 1916

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.

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.

21 January 1917

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

10 March 1917

1 April 1917

June 1017

24 Sept 1917

October 1917

November 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.

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

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

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

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

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

31 October 1917

Letter requesting that Commissioner pays for overcoats for the Special Patrols

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

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.

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.

4 September 1918

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

2 October 1918

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

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”.

9 October 1918

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

18 October 1918

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

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.

14 November 1918

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

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

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.

21 November 1918

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

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.

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.

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.

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 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).

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



Miscellaneous enquiries


Persons Cautioned9,448

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


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.


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.


8 March 1922

21 November 1922

December 1922

27th December 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.

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.

19 April 1923

December 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.

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


Bridgeman Departmental Committee report on the Employment of Policewomen


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


All women over 21, given right to vote.


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.

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.


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.


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. 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.


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.


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


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.


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

Pembridge Hall Section House opened.


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.


Wandsworth Section House opened for women.


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.


One Sergeant and five constables of the Met. Women Police seconded to Isle of Man to police the female Internment camp for enemy aliens until 1945.


An unexploded shell hit Pembridge Hall.

Assistant Commissioner George Abiss donated the Lady Abiss Trophy for the Annual First Aid Competition.


Members of the Women's Auxiliary Police Corps were attested.

Women Police Section of the Metropolitan Police Athletics Association (M.P.A.A.) was formed.


WPC 128 Bertha Massey Gleghorn WN 423 was killed by a V1 bomb whilst on duty at Tottenham Court Road on 19 June 1944. She was aged 33 and was the first women police officer to be killed whilst on duty.

Women Police were involved on duty in many air raid incidents.

Pembridge Hall was damaged by incendiary bombs.


Women police seconded to Germany (British zone) until 1949

February women police posted to Thames Division - but not on the boats


March 1946

Superintendent Peto retired.

Miss Elizabeth Bather, OBEWN 552 appointed Superintendent in charge of A.4 Branch. (ex- Group Captain in WAAF)

The marriage bar removed.

256 women police serving in the Met. 886 women police in the rest of England and Wales.

The Women’s Auxiliary Police Corp disbanded.

New style 'Bather' uniform introduced and worn until 1967.

Women Police allowed to take part in VE Parade.


In September, Home Office authorised a big increase of 100 in the establishment- from 50

Women officers earn £4. 9shillings a week + 9-shilling 6pence rent allowance.

Woman Detective Sergeant Alberta Watts WN 391 awarded Kings Police and Fire Service Medal for gallantry. Highly commended by the Commissioner and awarded £15 from the Bow Street Fund for acting as a decoy on Tooting Bec Common where women were being attacked and robbed.

This was the first award of gallantry made to a Women Police Officer.

Swimming, tennis, shooting, hockey, athletics and choir sections formed within the Women Police Section of the M.P.A.A.


Women admitted to the Police Federation.

The age limit was lowered from 24 to 20 as an experiment.

Pay - Woman Constable £4.14 shillings to £6.15 shillings a week; Sergeant £7.08 shillings a week; Inspector £510 a year.

18 Pembridge Square was acquired as an additional house to Pembridge Hall Section House.

Peto House in Aybrook Street, named after Miss Peto and replaced Wandsworth Section House for women in training.


Superintendent Bather WN 552 promoted to Chief Superintendent.

Establishment NOW 338. - Strength 235 uniform and 21 CID.

The rest of the country had 888 women officers

Inspector Wyles WN 23 retired with 30 years’ service. Inspector Ettridge WN 235 took over.

In that year as well as taking statements, Women C.I.D. officers made 440 arrests.

Chief Superintendent Bather wrote, “The work of the women in C. I. D. is widening every year”

Every division except ‘A' and 'Y' had a Woman C.I.D. Officer.

Cricket and Walking women sections formed in the Women Police Section of MPAA


Introduction of Women Specials.

Pay of WPC’s £290 - £380 a year plus rent-free accommodation or 17 shillings and sixpence in lieu.Woman Sergeant £400-£440 and a Woman Inspector £470-£510.


Women Police strength to be increased by another 50.

Metropolitan Women Police Sports Club formed.

Netball section formed.


George VI died.

Women Police first took part in Nijmegen Marches. Nine Women Police supervised by Supt. Smith


Coronation of Elizabeth II. Women Police employed on the ceremonial procession looking after school children along the Embankment

Police Council established; election of Federation women advisers.

First Aid Competition for Grace Lucas Trophy introduced.


CID attachments for women introduced.

Seamed black nylon stockings introduced.

26th January - Women Police to wear Divisional letters on shoulder straps (epaulettes) in place of MP.


Awards of the George Medal to W.P.S. Ethel Bush WN 578 and W.P.C. Kathleen Parrott WN 1000 for courage whilst engaged on observation during an investigation into sex offences, acting as decoy on Fairfield Path, Croydon.


The Dixon Committee recommended an increase in Women Police establishment to 656.


Women Police manned first casualty bureau after the Lewisham rail crash.

Women Officers served with the British Police Unit in Cyprus until 1959.

Women Detective Sergeants Shirley Becke WN 478 and Barbara Kelley WN 598 promoted to Detective Inspectors, the first two Women Detective Inspectors posted to Divisions for general duties.


Badminton Section of Women Police Sports Club formed.


Street Offences Act introduced. A4. Central Index of Prostitutes formed.

Woman Detective Constable appointed to Flying Squad.

Establishment 575: Strength 429 Uniform and 49 CID.


Chief Superintendent Elizabeth Bather retired.

Women Police seconded to Uganda until 1963.

Women Police seconded to Sierra Leone until 1964

Women Police employed on Vellocette lightweight motor cycles in outlying areas on 4 subdivisions.


Superintendent Winifred Barker WN 479 (the first who came through the ranks) promoted Chief Superintendent in charge of A.4. Branch.

Women are serving in C.1., Special Branch, Flying Squad, Regional Crime Squads, and on each Division.

Police Federation Act 1961 gave Women Police full representative and voting rights.

Women Police seconded to Nigeria.

Six WPC’s posted to new Patrol – given MGB Sports car 106FLY

They had a six-week postings rota to the four Area Traffic dealing with various motoring offences and particularly looking for girls hitch-hiking on lorries. (the M.1 motorway had also opened bringing more girls south).

Introduction of the National First Aid Competition



Age limit to join reduced to 19 years.

Working Party Report on Met Women Police (Inc. Supt Shirley Becke) reveals their duties to be:

Patrolling - varied by district

Escorting women, children and young persons

Custody of women prisoners in hospital and stations

Taking fingerprints

Juvenile and Matrimonial court officers

Court Inspector at Croydon

Enquiries re missing females, young persons, etc

Observations on crime, brothels, betting, licensing etc

Police raids where children and women may be found

School crossings

Deporting women aliens

Divisional short hand writers

Statement takers in indecency cases

Execution warrants re deserters and absentees from Women's Services

Lecture outside organisations

CID and aids to CID

Central index of Prostitutes

Training school


1 Chief Supt

4 Superintendents and 1 in CID

4 Chief Inspectors

11 Inspectors and 3 in CID

51 Sergeants and 11 in CID

454 constables

7 and half hour’s patrol duty, 1 hour for refreshment.

1 women officer (minimum) on division on night duty.


George Medal awarded to W.P.C. Margaret Cleland WN 1793 for courage in rescuing a known deranged man and his child from a roof.


Chief Superintendent Barker WN 479 retired.

Superintendent Shirley Becke WN478 promoted Chief Superintendent in charge of A.4. Branch.


First female Inspector takes up Bramshill Scholarship to Manchester University.

New style uniform designed by Norman Hartnell was introduced. Hat by Mme. Simone Mirman


50 years on from formation of Women Patrols – Establishment is-





Chief Superintendent



Superintendent 1st class



Superintendent 2nd class



Chief Inspector












Temporary Det. Constable







First black woman police officer - Sislin Fay Allen WN 2453.


Chief Superintendent Shirley Becke WN 478 became the first woman Commander.

Establishment 629: Strength 515 uniform and 77 CID.

Juvenile Bureaux introduced staffing by both sexes.

Women’s team won the National Police Ten Pin Bowling competition at Wembley.


January – First Women Officers appointed to Mounted Branch, began training at Imber Court.

They were posted to Great Scotland Yard stables in June.


February – first Sikh woman officer – Karpal Kaur Sandhu WN 2725 / 3058. Later murdered by her husband who was sentenced in March 1974.

First two women appointed as Drug dog handlers.

First woman officer employed as Crime Prevention Officer.

Women allowed to wear boots (at own expense)


First four women officers appointed to Traffic Division.

Plans announced for Integration – Police Order 22nd September

New style 'Surrey' uniform introduced.

Sislin Fay Allen WN 2453, the first Caribbean officer resigns


Integration and Equal opportunities established – Police Order 20th February

Separate establishments abolishment - A.4. disbanded.

Commander Shirley Becke WN 478 appointed to Inspectorate.

Inspector Sheila Ward takes charge of own Relief at West End Central.


Equal pay.

Commander Daphne Skillern WN 792 appointed to take charge of C.O. Branch.


Girl Cadets introduced.

First woman Officer to be appointed Collator.

Police Graduate Entry Scheme introduced.


First Woman Chief Superintendent appointed to take charge of a subdivision.

First female Cadet to become Police Officer

The Metropolitan Women Police Association (MWPA) formed by Chief Superintendent Greta Drinkwater WN 949.

Women allow to wear uniform trousers on duty for first time.


A First Aid team of women of the Metropolitan Police win the Grand Prior First Aid trophy a competition against leading teams from the commercial world.

New ‘mix & match' uniform designed by Mansfield Originals was introduced, with 'Butcher Boy' hat designed by Simone Mirman. Cravats replaced Bow ties.

Lord Edmund Davis Report into police pay.


60th Anniversary reception and Reunion Dinner of women in Metropolitan Police, attended by HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

Strength on 1st January 1979 – 1498 women officers. Met had 10% quota for female recruits.

5000th woman joined the service on 19th February - 60 years after the first group left training class.

New hat known as ‘Baker Boy’, ‘Butcher Boy’, ‘Smurf’ hat. Greatly disliked. (Reverted to 'Surrey' hat).


First Hindu woman officer appointed

Women Officers issued with handcuffs in December.


First female motorcyclist posted to Heathrow Airport.


WPC Jane Arbuthnot WN 6021 killed with others by IRA bomb at Harrods

First female officer posted to Thames Division

Culottes introduced to women’s uniform.


WPC Yvonne Fletcher WN 4257 killed whilst policing a demonstration outside the Libyan Embassy.

Female becomes Acting DAC, responsible of Equal Ops, Race and Gender

First woman to get HGV Class 1, she then drove the Recruiting truck.

Establishment of women officers: 2484 (2307 uniform and 174 CID).


New style uniforms introduced, with reinforced Bowler hat.

1985 first woman officer recruit receives receives Baton of Honour


April - Women issued with shorter truncheons. To be worn with skirts or trousers provided with truncheon pockets. If wearing a skirt not incorporating a truncheon pocket, to be carried in their handbags.

MWPA celebrates 10th anniversary.


Women allowed to attend Level 2 Public Order training – aim to put women on the Divisional Support Units (DSU)

Grievance procedures introduced.


Women no longer precluded from becoming authorised firearms officers. (AFO)


22 women trained as AFO's (Fire Arms)


Senior woman officer retires and is made a life peer. The first female career Met Police officer to be ennobled. Active in the Howard League

‘W’ removed from WPC (Woman Police Constable)


First career breaks allowed.

June - First two female officers to join Firearms Unit. (AFO)

Nov. – First incident where female Firearms Officers is shot at and shot suspect. First female officer to join Firearms Unit.


Stanhope Gold Medal was awarded to female constable who in January went to give first aid a scaffolder who had fallen and landed up on a sloping roof of a fourth-floor dormer window.

30th November 47 women joined Training School and the last separate female warrant no. was issued.


Part time work introduced


First black woman appointed as Firearms Officer.


International Association of Women Police - Excellence Award in Performance Met. Dog handler.

Equipment belts introduced vest introduced


MWPA celebrates 20th anniversary.


WPC Nina McKay WN 9774 stabbed to death, whilst performing duty as a TSG officer at Forest Gate.

Female Mounted Branch officer formed part of ‘Black Escort’ (Mounted) Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales.


First two women appointed as Deputy Assistant Commissioner’s


Specialist Operations Organised Crime Group formed (SOOCG)

Women officers posted to Bosnia Hercegovina under UN Control.


Rape Investigation victim support in Sapphire Teams

Senior female officer appointed Commander in the Diversity Directorate


Engender - Met Police action plan to empower women in Met Police

Female Officers may now wear the Muslim headdress 'hijab'

Commissioner's women's focus group set up.


Met Police unveil the new female Met Vest.

First woman appointed to lead the Flying Squad

First female appointed Commander of Special Branch

First National Senior Police Women's Conference. Commissioner praises role of women police officers.


First female EU national (Finland) allowed to join.

Women officers posted to Sierra Leona under UN Control.


Central London tube bombs on 7 July. Female officer awarded MBE for saving lives of 2 injured passengers.

Female officer seconded to British Police contingency to Thailand


Female appointed as first Deputy Asst. Commissioner in Specialist Operations.

International Association of Women Police – Bravery Award to female officer for action in regard to Central London tube bombs on 7 July 2005

MWPA celebrates 30th anniversary.


New Met. vest issued



Senior female officer appointed Asst. Commissioner in Specialist Crime Directorate.

First female officer invited to join Collision Investigation Unit (having been the first female officer to pass required exams in 2009).


International Association of Women Police – Leadership Award to a Met. Detective Inspector

First female officer joined the Wildlife Crime Unit.

Female officer included as one of five Planners for Olympic Torch Relay.


International Association of Women Police – Leadership Award to a Met. female Chief Superintendent


Tasers issued

First female officer to team at London City Airport


International Association of Women Police – Excellence in Performance Award to Met. Detective Inspector.

MWPA celebrates 40th anniversary.

10th April 2017

Cressida Dick WN 6910 appointed first female Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police 100 years after the ‘Special Patrols’ from the National Union of Women Workers were authorised in London by the Commissioner.

Body worn videos issued (BWV)


Strength 2017




Top Ranks



Chief Superintendent






Chief Inspector












iPads issued to officers.


Strength – 100 years

Awaits data to replace above info if possible

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 2018

News & Events

Linda Pinckney

Wt No. 1919

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