During the Great War women took on many jobs that had not traditionally been in the purview of the fairer sex, including law enforcement. It was originally envisaged that each force would have a handful of female constables to manage crimes where the victim might not be comfortable speaking to a man. However, as the war progressed and more male constables joined up or were conscripted, the numbers of female constables increased, as did the range of activities they performed. This novel new profession captured the imagination of artists and postcard manufacturers so today we are looking at a postcard of a female police woman:
The illustration is stylised, but the fundamentals of the uniform, with its long skirt, boots, full jacket is broadly accurate. The male helmet, however, was more commonly replaced with a broad brimmed floppy hat:
Female police numbers would drop again in the interwar period, but the principle had been established and most forces retained a female section from this point forward, numbers again increasing in the Second World War and the latter half of the twentieth century.
We had about 40% if not more female Officers, most times it was for the best.
On one occasion, we had cause to arrest and detain a female causing problems and demand with probable cause that she submit to a strip search, to be performed of course by female Officers.
She refused, becoming very abusive towards them in the process, claiming that we ‘had no right’.
The local Police were called and custody was transferred to them, requiring a strip search before entering cells in town.
There was an arrangement with the local force that this would be carried out by our Officers when necessary.
Guess which ones were available for this duty ? 😉