Tuesday, 5 April 2016

The First Women’s “Police” Patrols

Margaret Damer Dawson and Mary Allen, founders of Women's Police Service 
[Imperial War Museum Q108495, under IWM Non-Commercial Licence]

Wednesday 5th April 1916: At the annual meeting of the Bedfordshire Branch of the National Union of Women Workers held at Bedford yesterday a speech was given by the national president of the Union, Mrs Creighton. She told the meeting that what she had heard from Bedford had originated the “grand work” of women patrols. The Bedford ladies had noticed a need before anyone else had thought of it, and had started a voluntary scheme which had indicated there was a need for something on a much larger scale. There were now 2000 women’s patrols at work all over the country, safeguarding girls and supporting special clubs for girls and soldiers, with the sanction of both civil and military authorities [1].

Mrs Creighton also pointed out the importance of caring for the thousands of girls now working in the munitions factories, and making sure that their health and character did not suffer. Mrs Trustram Eve had visited the Luton to enquire into the housing situation of munitions workers. , She had found that the girls working in the factories were well provided for. The works all held lists of suitable lodgings; the rooms used for the girls were “clean and respectable”; and the landladies were asked to “mother” the girls as far as possible. In her opinion a matter of greater concern was the long hours the girls were expected to work.

Source: Bedfordshire Times, 7th April 1916; Luton News, 6th April 1916

[1] These women’s patrols worked alongside the privately founded Women’s Police Service. In 1918 the women’s patrols were disbanded and the first women were appointed as police officers.

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