Women Special Constables

Changing attitudes towards women in work

By Emma Steed

Even before the outbreak of the Great War it was seen that there was a need to employ Special Constables to support the police service.  The article in the picture shows how it was even being proposed that women should enter into the service as “specials”.

On 5th September 1914 however it is shown that the attitude towards this idea was taking time to be considered when “ a very muscular lady had said she would like to enlist as a Special Constable.  She thought that she might be of great service, especially in regard to detecting spies.”

She was turned away as “ladies were not wanted as Special Constables.”

The Government had always been opposed to the idea of Women serving in the police but with the outbreak of war and a large number of police joining the army  the attitudes towards women in work were gradually changing.  The first world was saw the first women entering into “policing” work.

Soon after the outbreak of the Great War, Margaret Damer Dawson envisaged that the creation of a group of professional women, trained to be Police volunteers could be of great benefit in controlling the behaviour of young women in Wartime Britain.  She was supported by Sir Edward Henry, the Chief Commissioner of Police and the Women’s Police Volunteers was formed.  She could see that many young women “enjoying new freedoms and opportunities unheard of in peacetime were at risk of succumbing to the vices of drunkenness, loose morals and criminal behaviour”

Another reason that women were accepted in this new organisation is that the women were willing to work for no pay.

This page was added on 24/06/2013.

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