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Many persons consider the appointment of women to police departments as an important part of an effective program for the protection of young people and the prevention of delinquency. Interesting experiments in this field, with varying programs, are being carried on in different parts of the world. As is true in all vital social movements, new factors may arise which will tend to alter the channels of activity. It therefore seems important that the influences governing the present development should be recorded. Particularly is this true because, as a social question, "Women Police" is as yet distinctly a movement with all the characteristics of a thing in motion and whose final direction and goal are not yet clearly conceived nor definitely formulated.

In no country, unless in England, have the various parts of this movement been correlated into a standardized formula. Within each country there are not only differences of opinion as to the basic utility or contribution of women officers of governmental departments and of private social agencies, but among these persons who advocate the appointment of women as police officers there are differences of opinion as to their functions, conditions of service, and the form of organization under which they should operate.

Further, not infrequently, two persons of the same country, both equally well informed, employ different terms in speaking of the same thing. It is difficult in the present phase of development of the movement to determine the exact meaning of terms used not only by persons of different countries but of the same country. It is reported, for instance, that the women officers in one city in the United States thought they were applying the "preventive and protective functions" as advocated by public service workers, when they "protected" the girl from arrest and then "prevented" her appearance in court, or her contact with other agencies, public and private, which exist to help her.1

This lack of standard definitions of terms with the exact equivalents in each of several languages handicaps discussion. The task of presenting a true picture of the movement is rendered more difficult when the only available information from most countries must be gleaned from the printed word, and particularly so, when statements by different persons concerning an identical subject are dissimilar. A correct interpretation of documents, letters, articles, and books written from various points of view and not based on a common acceptance of terms is very nearly impossible.

This study attempts only to bring together between the two covers of a book the available information on the subject as a basis for study and reflection for those interested in the question.

1 For discussion of preventive and protective work see Chapter XI.




Early efforts to secure women for protective workReports and acts affecting the general movement-The Women Police Volunteers-The Women Police ServiceThe Women Patrols-Women Patrols in London-Their present status.

England is the only country wherein the subject of employment of women on police duties has been the object of a special, thorough, serious inquiry by a governmental committee. The fact that, although having practically complete local autonomy, the police bodies of the various counties and boroughs receive their authority from general laws and are subject to inspection by the Home Office, tends toward more uniformity in the development of any given police function.

An important factor in the growth of the women police, or indeed of any special movement, is the compactness of the territory to be covered and the resulting facility in the exchange of ideas and experiences with the inevitable checking up of the

respective efficiency of different methods of work. For these reasons, together with the fact that more documentation on this subject is this subject is available in England than in other countries, it is both possible and useful to record somewhat at length the development of the movement for women police in Great Britain.


In England as early as the Eighteenth Century, during the hearing on a case in court-R. vs. Briggs-there was a discussion of the legality of women to serve in a certain compulsory office. One of the judges remarked: (9) * "I do not know why a woman should not be appointed to be a constable." However a century passed before women were employed in police departments. In 1883 the Metropolitan Police in London appointed two women to supervise women convicts. Later it was considered that one woman could quite easily manage the amount of this work which existed. More recently the entire responsibility of such supervision has been assumed by the Central Association for Supervising Conviction on License. (1)

In 1905 a woman, Miss McDougall, was attached to the Metropolitan Police Force to conduct in

* Numbers in parentheses refer to paragraph numbers in the Minutes of Evidence of the Committee on the Employment of Women on Police Duties. H. M. Stationery Office, 28 Abingdon St., London, S. W. 1. 1921. (Cmd 1133) 2s net.

quiries in cases of outrage on women and especially in cases of children.1 "The children get very frightened and it was found necessary . . . for a woman to get hold of them and soothe them and to become expert in getting them to give evidence in court." (179) For many years in England the care of women and children, while in custody and before the magistrates, as well as their escort, have been entrusted to women, principally the wives of resident police or women called in as the occasion required. (94) Each year it has been found desirable to make this a whole time employment in an increasingly larger number of places and the term "police matron" imported from America and adopted by the Home Office in 1908 is now used to designate the women employed on these duties.

Before the World War and culminating in the first half of the year 1914, there was considerable agitation in many sections of England for the employment of women police as a part of the organization for the prevention and detection of crime. In England spasmodic efforts to secure the official appointment of women police had for some time existed, but had met with scant sympathy from the authorities concerned. Private organizations such as vigilance committees and councils for pro

1 Report of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, London, 1918-1919.

2 Women Police in Great Britain. M. G. Garden. Sept., 1924. Published by the International Bureau for the Suppression of Traffic in Women and Children. 2 Grosvenor Mansions, 76 Victoria St., London, S. W. 1, England. Sept., 1924 (11514-K).

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