Connect with us

Featured

Service to mark 100 years since women joined the Met Police | UK News

Published

on

A special service at Westminster Abbey will be held today to mark 100 years since women joined the Metropolitan Police.

On 17 May 1919 the new police women were seen in uniform for the first time at a war memorial service at the abbey.

Now, a century on, 12 female officers will appear in 1919 replica uniforms and mirror a photo taken standing on Clive Steps in Westminster.

A hundred years has passed since women were first allowed to join the Met Police
Image:
A hundred years has passed since women were first allowed to join the Met Police

The service will also mark the end of the Met’s #100yearsstrong campaign celebrating the anniversary.

In 1919 there were just 21 women patrols, as they were known at the time. Women where never sworn in to the force.

Police women were also paid was less than men and had no powers of arrest.

Sioban Clarke, pictured in August 1971
Image:
Sioban Clarke pictured in August 1971

A hundred years on and all operational policing roles are open to women and in 2017 Cressida Dick was appointed the Met’s first female commissioner.

One of the highest ranking women in the force has thanked the pioneering women who came before her.

Deputy assistant commissioner Lucy D’Orsi said: “If I could go back in time and speak to those pioneers I think I’d want to thank them for having the courage for really going into a profession where nobody expected them to see women.”

Sioban Clarke pictured on duty during an event with the Queen
Image:
Ms Clarke pictured on duty during an event with the Queen

She added: “When you look back at a lot of the papers it was very much described as experimental in every sense and I think today that experiment worked because we have a female commissioner at the top of our organisation leading the Met police.”

Among those attending the service is Sioban Clarke, who joined the force in 1969.

Ms Clarke said: “The men didn’t think that the women were capable of doing the job, they should be at home looking after their husband.

Sioban Clarke pictured helping to protect former PM Margaret Thatcher
Image:
Ms Clarke pictured helping to protect former PM Margaret Thatcher

“They didn’t like the idea of women being involved in fights, although part of our training was always ‘talk yourself out of trouble’ and that’s what the girls did. They’d walk into a crowded pub and the men were so embarrassed that they would behave themselves. Gradually they showed that they could do the job and bit by bit the men accepted them.”

There are currently 8,000 women in the Met and 22,000 men. Ms D’Orsi says the force’s ultimate aim is to have an equal number of women and men in the force.

Sioban Clarke today
Image:
Ms Clarke today

She said: “We have been a male dominated organisation in the past and it’s definitely been seen as a career for men to join, but I think we are seeing a real change now. If you look at front line policing and the percentage of women that are on front line policing that has significantly changed. It is going to take a number of years for women to catch up with the past.

“We’re not where we want to be in terms of our representation, we want to be an organisation that looks like the community, so our absolute aspiration would be to have 50% of the organisation being women. We need women to believe that they can do it, they want to do it, and that we are a fantastic place to work.”

Advertisement Find your dream job

Trending