100 YEARS OF WOMEN IN POLICING
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