• Categories: 20th Century

The first ever women police officers in Hertfordshire were Margaret and Annie Johnson, sisters. They began their work at Watford Division, King Street Police Station on December 7th 1928. Prior to this, it had been usual practice to ask the wives of serving male officers to search women prisoners.

By 1929, the regulations stated that to be a police officer, women had to be unmarried or a widow and between the ages of 22 and 35. They were given duties that often involved women and children, and when on patrol they were specially required to be vigilant and watching women and children who might be at risk of molestation or prostitution.

By 1948 there were still only 14 women police officers in the force, and it was not until 1974 that they received equal pay to their male colleagues. Even as late as 1966, WPC Ann Evans reports being expected to make the tea by a Superintendant. “You don’t mind, do you” he stated. Her response? “Yes”- she did mind, and reports glowering at the Super.

Many thanks to the authors of the book 150 Years Policing in Watford District and Hertfordshire County, by Nik Pringle and Jim Treversh, and to the Herts Past Policing site and the Herts Constabulary Police Historical Society.