100 YEARS OF WOMEN IN POLIC­ING

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THIS year the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice Ser­vice cel­e­brates 100 years since women were first al­lowed to join the force. We joined FYI’s ju­nior re­porter, Ruby Chap­man, to go be­hind the scenes at New Scot­land Yard and meet Deputy As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Lucy D’Orsi.

WHERE DID IT ALL BE­GIN?

On 22 Novem­ber 1918, the then Com­mis­sioner Sir Ce­cil Macready an­nounced that the Met would have fe­male po­lice of­fi­cers – these would be known as the Women Pa­trols. Sev­eral months later, in Fe­bru­ary 1919, these ladies took to the streets of Lon­don for the first time.

The 21 women signed a year’s con­tract on an ‘ex­per­i­men­tal’ ba­sis, and were not sworn in or given the power to ar­rest peo­ple. At this stage, the pay was low and no pen­sion rights were given.

Over time, the Women Pa­trols grew and the of­fi­cers started to be given more rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. In 1923, they were al­lowed to ar­rest and could be called con­sta­bles rather than pa­trols. Then in 1937, they were au­tho­rised to take fin­ger­prints. Slowly, they started to be pro­moted to other roles, too, such as de­tec­tive in­spec­tors and drug dog han­dlers.

The Po­lice Women’s De­part­ment was dis­banded in 1973, but this wasn’t the end for women in polic­ing.

WHAT HAP­PENED NEXT?

Through­out the 1980s and 1990s, things changed a lot. More po­lice of­fi­cer roles were opened up to women, in­clud­ing spe­cial­ist roles, and ev­ery­one got equal pay.

To­day, there are nearly 8,000 women of­fi­cers in the force, do­ing all sorts of dif­fer­ent jobs and work­ing at ev­ery rank. In fact, on 10 April 2017, Cres­sida Dick be­came the first ever fe­male Com­mis­sioner, which means she is now in charge of the whole or­gan­i­sa­tion. That’s girl power!

IS THERE MORE WORK TO DO?

Of course! At the mo­ment, just un­der 27% of of­fi­cers are women. The Com­mis­sioner and her team want to change that and en­cour­age more women to join the Met. The long-term goal is to make it 50%. They also want to prove that women can do all the same jobs as male po­lice of­fi­cers. The force has launched a re­cruit­ment cam­paign called Strong, which fea­tures ‘strong’ cur­rent and past role mod­els. One of those is Sis­lin Fay Allen. Did you know Sis­lin was Bri­tain’s first black fe­male po­lice of­fi­cer? She joined the force back in 1968 at the age of 29.

MEET LUCY D’ORSI

Lucy D’Orsi is the Deputy As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner for the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice and a very strong role model in­deed! It’s her job to help keep us safe, and she does lots of work with dif­fer­ent teams to achieve this.

She told us: “My favourite part of my job is help­ing peo­ple and mak­ing a dif­fer­ence to peo­ple. The big­gest thing I’ve ever done, and that I was most proud of, was when I was the gold com­man­der in charge of the cel­e­bra­tions for the RAF 100 this year.”

Lucy re­vealed: “I think women bring dif­fer­ent qual­i­ties to polic­ing. I think at times in my ca­reer I’ve of­ten felt that I’ve had to prove my­self a lit­tle bit more. I don’t know if that’s just me think­ing that, or whether or not you re­ally have to do that. I sup­pose, now, be­ing a se­nior po­lice woman, there’s not that many of us at the top, so I do feel a re­spon­si­bil­ity as a role model. I want to en­cour­age lots of women that they can do any­thing, be­cause they can!”

ON THE ROAD WITH RUBY

To cel­e­brate the cen­te­nary of fe­male of­fi­cers in the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Po­lice Ser­vice, FYI’s ju­nior re­porter Ruby was in­vited down to New Scot­land Yard in Lon­don to meet some of the in­spir­ing ladies work­ing there now.

Ruby got to visit the po­lice horse sta­bles, check out a po­lice mo­tor­bike, meet a po­lice dog and in­ter­view Lucy some more. Check out Ruby’s fun-filled day with the Met on TV and on­line (de­tails be­low)!

Feed­ing a po­lice horse

Ruby meets Lucy D’Orsi

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