Written By: David Barett 2/12/15
Home Secretary marks the 100th anniversary of the first women police in Britain
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is to voice a new determination to make police forces more diverse – on the 100th anniversary of Britain’s first female officers.
With currently less than a third of police in England and Wales women, Mrs May is expected to signal further efforts to increase numbers of female officers.
In a speech at an event marking the centenary Mrs May is expected to say: “While we have come a long way, we must go further if we are to ensure greater diversity and truly modern police forces that reflect the communities they serve and provide police officers able to tackle not only traditional crime but also the changing face of crime.”
She will note that as recently as the 1980s women officers were issued with official handbags, and small truncheons designed to fit inside the accessory.
“The fact that we have a higher proportion of female police officers than ever before, more women in senior positions and more women in a diverse range of roles, is no accident,” the minister will say at the event in central London.
“It is the result of the hard work of women in police forces up and down the country.
“A century ago, policing really was a man’s world. And I am sorry to say that my own department was among the first to challenge the recruitment of female police officers.
“Shortly after the appointment of Britain’s first ever female police constable with officials powers of arrest, the Home Office declared that women could not be sworn in as police officers because they were not deemed ‘proper persons’.
Photo: Mark Campbell/Rex Features
“It makes you wonder what those Home Office officials would say now to having a female Home Secretary.”
In a speech less than a month ago Mrs May signalled plans for a broad re-think on police staffing.
She hinted at reforms which would remove requirements that, with limited exceptions, police officers must start as constables and work their way up the ranks.
The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, has traditionally put forward arguments that only police officers are capable of performing policing roles and fought against what it perceives as “civilianisation” of the job, as well as staunchly defending its members pay and conditions.
Latest figures show there were 35,738 female officers in England and Wales, or just over 28 per cent of the total, while in senior ranks above chief inspector the figure was just over 21 per cent.
Source: The Telegraph