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The Metropolitan Police is celebrating 100 years of female police officers

We would like to say thanks to female officers for their commitment and dedication to policing over the last century.

Over the last 100 years, women have played a vital part in keeping London a safe city for all and we would like to show our appreciation to every single woman that has been part of the service since February 1919, which was when the Metropolitan Police Women Patrols was formed and had a headcount of just 21 female officers.

On the 22nd of November 1918, it was announced that women were to be introduced to employment within London’s police service. For the first 21 female officers, who all started on an ‘experimental’ basis in February 1919, their working conditions were much different to those females working in the job today. They received poor pay, were not entitled to a pension and were not referred to as ‘police women’ like they currently are. Instead, they were called ‘women patrols’. This was perhaps because they didn’t have the power of arrest and were not sworn in.

It is fair to say that February 1919 was still quite a long way away from equal rights within the police service, despite females being introduced to policing roles.

A step in the right direction was made in late 1923 when female officers were given a new title, which was to be ‘Constable’ – the same as their male peers. This has remained in place since being implemented nearly a century ago.

With salaries remaining imbalanced between male and female officers for decades, it was a really lengthy period for women feeling undervalued for their work and commitment to London. It wasn’t until 1973 when the ‘women’s department’ was finally removed from the police service that we started to see significant change. Just one year later, the difference between pay for male and female officers was finally addressed and equal pay was introduced.

Currently, 27% of the Metropolitan Police Service’s workforce is made up of women, which is all thanks to the positive change we have seen over the last 100 years. A century on and we have our first female Commissioner, Cressida Dick currently in post and doing great work. It really just goes to show that the opportunities are now literally endless for women in policing. 

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