Britains 1st policewoman goes on duty
A force called The Women Police Volunteers (later renamed The Women Police Service) began operating in the very early days of World War I , working alongside but independent of the Metropolitan Police. These women, however, had no powers of arrest, and no warrant cards, only identity cards. This group was formed to deter the exploitation of refugees fleeing the Germans, and to tackle the capital’s increasing problem with prostitution.
It was not though in London that the first WPC started work, but in Grantham in Lincolnshire, another feminist first for the town that where Margaret Thatcher , Britain’s first female Prime Minister, was born.
Mrs Edith Smith was a member of the Women Police Service, called in by Lincolnshire’s Chief Constable to help deal with the upsurge in prostitution in the area because huge numbers of new army recruits were billeted there for training. Such was the seriousness of the problem that the Town Council and local Watch Committee were persuaded by the Chief Constable to allow her to be sworn in with full powers of arrest.
A photograph of Mrs Smith shows a formidable young woman with a strong jaw and, behind her plain spectacles, a determined look to her eyes. She remained in the town until she quit the force in 1918, exhausted by years of working seven days a week. Tragically she committed suicide five years later, taking an overdose of morphia. Grantham’s Guildhall Museum (which was used as a makeshift jail when she served in the town) has a display dedicated to her memory.
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From ryan on 23rd November 2012
the police service were first introduced in 1929,,,,,,
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