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The development of the women police was a complex and difficult one.
The involvement of the Women Police Volunteers, subsequently named the Women's Auxiliary Service, had been started in 1914 by Margaret Damer Dawson and the journalist Nina Boyle. Commissioner Sir Edward Henry gave permission for the women to patrol the streets and gave them identification cards. Their role was mainly with prostitutes. The organisation adopted the police ranks of Sergeant and Inspector and re-named itself the Women Police Service.
Sir Edward's successor Sir Nevil Macready refused to recognise the Women Police Service, but did collaborate with the National Council of Women's Special Police Patrols, whose members, headed by Sophia Stanley, later became the first recognised Women Police.
Mrs Sophia Stanley and the first Metropolitan police women
Naturally enough, women officers were pre-eminent at dealing with women and children, especially in the early days, and some characters like Annie Matthews created a formidable image alongside a heart of gold.
Annie Matthews at Hyde Park
Women officers like Annie Matthews were also used for helping in operations against cocaine trafficking from very early days. In due course, the sterling qualities of female officers were formally recognised, not least in the Kings Police Medal for Bravery awarded to Sergeant Alberta Law, and the George Medals awarded to Kathleen Parrott, Ethel Bush and Margaret Cleland.
The first black woman officer was Sislin Fay Allen who served from 1968 - 1972.
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