Friday, 24 May 2013

Women in the Police? You must be kidding!

Now that The Uncanny Life of Polly is finished and awaiting delivery to the editor, I am free to embark on another project!

Yes, I know I'm mad! ;-)

I've decided to work on a project I'm doing for my publisher - Moon Rose Publishing.
They love Relative Deceit and they want more.  So... I put on my
thinking cap and decided to take the detective out of our story, put him in a new setting and see what crimes he unearths and solves.

However, Det. Insp. Samuel Harris has a niece, Lettie Jenkins.  She's always wanted to follow in his
footsteps.  Having grown up in the age of women's suffrage and of women getting the vote in 1918.  This inspired her to reach to a career previously inaccessible to women, very much like those born in the 60s and 70s also did.

It was the Ministers of Munitions, Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, who requested uniformed women officers from the Women's Volunteer Police Service (WPS) to police female munitions workers in 1915.
However, the WPS attracted unfavourable attention by its meddlesome policing of prostitutes, and harassing the women. When Sir Nevil Macready became Police Commissioner, he refused to adopt them as Metropolitan Police aides.  He preferred the National Council of Women's Special Police Patrols. 
The Women's Special Police Patrols had no past association with militant suffragettes, and became the nucleus of the future Women Police. The head of the Patrols, Mrs Stanley, was hostile to the WPS, believing their uniforms and use of Metropolitan Police ranks to mislead the public. Under her, the WPS were forced to change their name to the Women's Auxiliary Service (WAS) in 1921, and to add red flashes to their uniform, distinguishing its members from the Metropolitan Women Police Patrols.
The Baird Committee on Women Police (1920) failed to recommend the WAS play any part in policing London, and although a WAS contingent made valuable contributions to the Royal Irish Constabulary during the Troubles, they were forced to suspend their activities in 1940, and were never revived.
In November 1918, Sir Nevil Macready appointed Mrs Stanley as Superintendent of the Metropolitan Women Police Patrols. 25 women were immediately appointed, all members of the existing Special Patrols, and although they were neither sworn in or given special powers of arrest, they were directly employed by and directly under the orders of Scotland Yard, and their duties were policing.
From 1923 - 30, women police were fully attested and given limited powers of arrest. 
From 1930 - 69, A4 Branch (Women Police) was established under a female Superintendent. 
In 1969 the Women's Branch was dissolved in anticipation of the Equal Pay Act, although women police were still treated as a separate section of the service. It was not until 1973 that Women Police were integrated directly into the main force.

(History on women in the Police thanks to the Metropolitan Police.)
(Top right - the actor Paul Copley.  He's who I think of when I'm writing Det. Inspector Samuel Harris.)

So, will Lettie Jenkins be forced to get the Ladies of the night off the streets and make tea in the station?  
Like 'eck will she!  She's a character in a Karen Aminadra novel! ;-)