A History of Women in Policing

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    • 00:12

      HAZEL LANE: The decade, the 60s.The year, '67.And a female, of whom there were few.As a junior probationer in the East Sussex force,my dream was about to come to.Unheard of.Not possible.Too many bridges to persuade thosewho just said no, that women on mission would never survive.Our mission to prove it and show that thanks to the risk

    • 00:34

      HAZEL LANE [continued]: the chief was to take as he bravely proposed, without fear,that women in policing in higher speed carscould integrate well in this sphere.When I joined the police force in 1965,this police station was still open,although it had been condemned for several years.And a new police facility was builtin John Street in Brighton to which I

    • 00:56

      HAZEL LANE [continued]: was transferred in 1971.Having had the opportunity to spread my wingsand join the traffic division in Brighton, whichwas a historical moment because there were no femaleson traffic up until that stage.[Women in policing exhbition.The Old Police Cells Musuem]

    • 01:17

      DETECTIVE INSPECTOR JACQUI JENKINS:We've done enormous amounts of research.And one of the things that I found saddestabout the research that we did wasthe enormous gaps and the amount of troublewe had to go to fill those gaps.Whereas, policing is generally quite well documented,for women policing, the experience of Sussexis that that documentation isn't there in the waythat it was always for man.And we hope the research that we've done

    • 01:39

      DETECTIVE INSPECTOR JACQUI JENKINS [continued]: and the fact that this stuff is now in the museumwill start to redress that balance a little bitand acknowledge the phenomenal work and the difficultiesthat those women must have gone through as pioneersin policing.[INAUDIBLE]The history of women in policing goes back over 100 yearsand it affects the whole of the UK.We are, specifically, making this Sussex specific.

    • 02:00

      DETECTIVE INSPECTOR JACQUI JENKINS [continued]: Policing in Sussex started to happen the sort of 1915 periodwhen Mary Hare established the first Woman Police Volunteers.But in conflict with her was The National Union of Women PoliceWorkers, which was supported by the government in a way thatMary Hare wasn't.The two forces, whilst one was unofficial, one was official,were actually trying achieve the same thing in that they wanted

    • 02:23

      DETECTIVE INSPECTOR JACQUI JENKINS [continued]: to prevent prostitution, they wanted the exploitationof women to be also about controlling women,to some extent, and their behavior.So the legitimate police force, if you like,were providing social clubs for them to go into,whereas Mary was more about what we would todayconsider to be policing, in termsof dealing with some of the issues--crime issues rather than social club issues.

    • 02:46

      DETECTIVE INSPECTOR JACQUI JENKINS [continued]: During the 1920s, the number of police womenwas about 170 something across the UK.There weren't many women.And the home office had said that whilst the women hadproved their worth during the First World War,there was no compulsion to recruit women into policing.And so there's quite a big gap-- therewas a royal commission on police powers and proceduresthat explained how that would happen,

    • 03:07

      DETECTIVE INSPECTOR JACQUI JENKINS [continued]: but it's not until the 1940s, when suddenly we'rein World War II, when women were being used again in policing.And they were also used for driving ambulancesduring the Second World War.This is a picture of Margaret Damer Dawson and MaryAllen, who were among the two first womenpolice officers in the UK.Margaret Damer Dawson and Mary Allen

    • 03:28

      DETECTIVE INSPECTOR JACQUI JENKINS [continued]: went on to do quite a lot of work abroad as well,trying to support policing abroadas the UK policing took off.They were both fairly well to do ladies,having been involved in the suffragette movement.They had money and were philanthropists in supportingthat, but they had to buy their own uniformsand address the issues of women policing for themselves.There was no support from the men during that period.

    • 03:50

      DETECTIVE INSPECTOR JACQUI JENKINS [continued]: As you go through history, you'llfind that the women were still in separate police stationswith their own separate rank structure.Everything was separated the men into the sort of 50s and 60s.There was still that segregation all the waythrough to amalgamation when they finallyaccepted, by Hazel's time, that actually womencould do the same job.

    • 04:12

      HAZEL LANE: Police women in the 60swere basically employed to be matrons of female prisoners,to look after children and young person issues,to deal with sexual offenders, or deal with rapesand that sort of sensitive thing,but they weren't actually used on main policeman policing.

    • 04:37

      HAZEL LANE [continued]: It was a little bit of a surprisethat suddenly, we were able to spread our wingsand try for positions in the mounted section, the CID,the dog section, and, of course, traffic division,which was where I went.So up until that stage, it was quite a restricted position,

    • 04:60

      HAZEL LANE [continued]: but after 1968 and amalgamation whenSussex became one overall police force includinghere at Brighton, things got betterand police women were excepted.In the 60s, this would have been the hat

    • 05:21

      HAZEL LANE [continued]: that I was a issued with, or the same style,but as I was on the traffic division,all traffic officers wear white hats with white tops.The manufacturers of this particular style of policewomen's hat we're unable to provide white topped hats,so we were instructed by the chief constableto actually paint the tops of our hats with emulsion paint.

    • 05:44

      HAZEL LANE [continued]: This is a handbag-- not one that I was actually issued with.But we were all issued with handbagsin which we used to keep our pocketbook in, a spot of money,a pair of glasses, a camera, a pair of binoculars.Anything that you could fit in that was going to be useful.We had no weapons.No truncheons, contrary to popular belief, at that time.

    • 06:05

      HAZEL LANE [continued]: My only defence was my whistle and I had to blow very hardto get any response.

    • 06:10

      DETECTIVE INSPECTOR JACQUI JENKINS:So this is a picture of Hazel Waters whowas one of the very first female traffic officers in the UK.And this is her car together with Joy and herself,who were appointed women police traffic officers in 1967.And as you can see from some of the pictures,the perhaps inappropriate posturingis probably not what you'd expectto see at a police station.

    • 06:32

      DETECTIVE INSPECTOR JACQUI JENKINS [continued]: When I joined the job in 1988, I was a WPC.But by 1993, that prefix got droppedand we stopped being women police constablesand became police constables.Attitudes of sexism are completely unacceptable now,but there are still some sort of last bastionswithin the police force where women haven't yet

    • 06:53

      DETECTIVE INSPECTOR JACQUI JENKINS [continued]: achieved certain ranks.

    • 06:56

      HAZEL LANE: In current police force, police women,I think, have more of an advantagebecause there now is the facility to work part timeand to arrange child care accordingly.And therefore, they can multitaskin both the police force and their home life,whereas we had no choice.Full time or nothing.

    • 07:16

      DETECTIVE INSPECTOR JACQUI JENKINS:When I look back on what some of the early woman didand the things they must have gone through, they must havebeen true grit, very tough ladiesto have put up with some of the circumstances, someof the things that they were expected to,and their frustrations in not being able to do thingsthey probably thought they could do.But they were women of their time,and they pioneered, and set the ground for those of us

    • 07:37

      DETECTIVE INSPECTOR JACQUI JENKINS [continued]: that have come behind them.We decided to test ourselves the challenge of putting100 women outside of Malling Houseto show where we got to in 2015 and to celebratethe fact that it's been 100 years of women in policing.We actually got 130 people there.We tried to get somebody to represent every role,so there are people wearing CBRN kit, traffic officers, dogs

    • 07:59

      DETECTIVE INSPECTOR JACQUI JENKINS [continued]: officers, firearms officers.It's more about gender equality and to show that we'vegot this far in history.

    • 08:07

      HAZEL LANE: Police women on traffic is commonplace now.Equal pay and conditions, not then.But I'm proud to have been at the start of a plot that madehistory and tormented the men.

A History of Women in Policing

View Segments Segment :


The Old Police Cells Museum addresses the history of women in policing, particularly in Sussex. Hazel Lane talks about her experiences as one of the first women in the traffic division. Jacqui Jenkins examines the journey of women in policing, from pioneers who only dealt with women's issues and had to pay for their own uniforms up to today's gender-equal workforce.

SAGE Video In Practice
A History of Women in Policing

The Old Police Cells Museum addresses the history of women in policing, particularly in Sussex. Hazel Lane talks about her experiences as one of the first women in the traffic division. Jacqui Jenkins examines the journey of women in policing, from pioneers who only dealt with women's issues and had to pay for their own uniforms up to today's gender-equal workforce.

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