We wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on our past, to look at the remarkable women who came before us and to honour them for forging the way to improving gender equality in our workplace.
Celebrating our trailblazers for International Women’s Day
It’s International Women’s Day (8 March) and this year’s theme is gender equality.
These are some of the trailblazers from WMP’s past.
Our first female police officer
Evelyn Miles, one of the force’s first female officers
She was recruited in 1916 as a lock-up matron and in 1917 became the first woman constable along with Rebecca Lipscombe. They were aged 54 and 61 respectively.
Their duties involved dealing with vulnerable young females. However, they weren’t allowed to arrest anyone.
By 1935 there were a total of 17 women officers but there were strict rules. Up until 1931 Birmingham only recruited married women past child bearing age. It was only with the new regulations in 1931 that policewomen were allowed to be unmarried.
Evelyn was promoted in 1918 as the small force of police women began to grow and she retired at the age of 77.
Our first female police sergeant:
Ena Goodacre, first female sergeant
Ena was born in 1911 and spent her early years on her family’s farm. After joining Coventry City Police in 1938, she became the force’s first female sergeant in December 1943.
Our first female inspector:
Florence Mildred White
Florence White, first female inspector.
Pictured back row fourth from the left
Florence became a police officer for Salisbury Town Council in March 1918.
She wanted to widen her experience and with the full approval of Salisbury Police she transferred to Birmingham City Police in June 1925 as a female enquiry officer, equivalent in rank to a sergeant.
She recruited two assistants and in 1930 was promoted to inspector, becoming the first female inspector in the country.
Our first female firearms officer
PC Ashley Moore
Although Ashley wasn’t the first female armed officer in West Midlands Police, she was the first woman to be posted to an armed response vehicle (ARV) after joining the Firearms Operations Unit (FOU). The few that preceded her were based at Birmingham Airport.
In April 2000 Ashley was posted to the ARV team. The department initially struggled to know how to accommodate her. To get to the crew room you had to walk through the locker room which of course was full of male officers’ lockers. The unit literally cleared out a cleaning cupboard and put her locker in there.
Our first female BAME officer:
Pauline made history when she joined West Midlands Police as the first BAME officer in 1974.
She left after three years to work with social services in Birmingham. By 2017 she was living in New York and working in a prison ministry.
Our first female ACC:
Pat Barnett, first female ACC
Pat Barnett was the very first female officer to hold the rank of Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) in the West Midlands in August 1991.
She joined Birmingham City Police in 1966. She then transferred to Warwickshire & Coventry Constabulary for four years until Coventry was amalgamated into West Midlands Police.
In 2020, around 51 per cent of our workforce is women, and 32 per cent officers. Since PC recruitment reopened last year, around 52 per cent of applications for police constable are from women.
We are seeing more and more women coming through the ranks and working in what were once thought of as male dominated roles including firearms, CMPG, traffic and the dog unit.
If you’re on social media search #eachforequal #IWD20 #WMPfamily for more stories on International Women’s Day.
#AceHistoryDesk report …………..Published: Mar.08: 2020:
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