As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we are in the midst of a brand new blog series.
The premise of this series is to interview women working in male dominated fields, in order to find out more about their career paths, celebrate their achievements and see what kind of improvements are still outstanding for women. We hope that you will be able to gain some valuable insight if you’re looking to start your career, if you’re looking for a career change or if you’re just interested in finding out more about other people’s careers.
Today we are going to be learning all about women in the UK police force! The role of women in the police has existed since 1914, when two women (a suffragette called Nina Boyle and an anti-slavery campaigner called Margaret Damer Dawson) started the Women Police Service. This force existed independently to the Metropolitan Police, but they were called upon to assist with anti-prostitution operations and were of great assistance while men were at war.
The first official police woman was Sofia Stanley, who was admitted into the Metropolitan Police in 1918. The role of female police officers at this time was to assist with prostitutes, female juveniles etc. but they were not permitted to carry handcuffs or make arrests until 1923. As you will see from the answers below, the role of women in the police has changed and developed dramatically since the early 20th Century, but if you would like more information about their rise, you can find this here.
Once again, our interviewee has asked to remain anonymous but we are sure that you will agree that her answers are a real eye opener.
1. What do you do and how long have you been doing it?
I got into [the police force] about 12 years ago. I now work as a DC.
2. How did you get into your field?
I started taking 999 calls. They began to open the recruitment for police so [I] applied then. Interestingly, about 75% of those applying from within the police seemed to be women.
3. What do you enjoy about your job?
I like the variety. I can do different jobs in the police and always have the security of having a job. I have worked [in the] front line, in plain clothes drugs squads, in intelligence and in the crime world doing investigation.
I like the fact that every day is different. We can be attending a sudden death, going to a burglary, dealing with someone in custody, going to court for trials or to argue legal matters. Because you respond to what is happening, you sometimes have to juggle things and time – especially now that there are fewer resources – which can be hard work.
4. What is life like for a woman in the police?
Life in the police now is miles away from what it used to be in terms of women at work – if you read the history, women were massively segregated. My grandfather was in the police and he talks about a separate team for women [who] were not to involve themselves in anything really dynamic. They were more of a pastoral team. I’m talking over 50 years ago – but now women are really encouraged and any talk of them being the fairer sex is frowned upon.
However, women have to be excellent to be respected in the police and the saying that women have to work twice as hard as a man to be half as respected is true. Sometimes women have to be truly aggressive and rely on some really quite male characteristics to get ahead. On the other hand, because the police rely on “fair” principles to promote, we can end up with women and men who some officers do not respect. There is a huge emphasis on promoting those who are women and from ethnic minorities.
We hope you have enjoyed this instalment of Women in the Workplace and if you are interested in a career in the police, you can click the link here to find out more. Please note that the recruitment site will vary depending on where you live.
Thanks for reading,