Bucks Women Police

I have been unable to find any documented information on Bucks WPCs other than a very small piece in the Centenary Book written in 1957 by Alfred Hailstone but, with the help of a number of retired Women Police Constables, I have been able to compile the information and photographs below which I think is the only recorded information on this subject. If you have any information which could be added to this research then please email me on bucksconstable@btinternet.com

Mick Shaw

Woman Inspector Mary Danby leading the WPCs section at the Centenary Parade in 1957

In 1916 the Standing Joint Committee received a letter from the Criminal Law Amendment Committee (The Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 was an act to make provision for the protection of women and girls) advocating the training of women to become Police Officers. As a result Bucks Police gave a Mrs Wright of Woburn Sands their ‘unofficial blessing’ to help the constabulary and she was given the rank of Sergeant. No records have been found as to her duties or even if she was paid or unpaid. She was last mentioned in a letter received at the end of the First World War from the Women’s Police Headquarters in London expressing deep regret that the Bucks Constabulary declined to give her a permanent position.

In 1933 members of the Bucks Federation for Women’s Institutes and Mother’s Unions presented a case to the Standing Joint Committee but even though they put a good case the committee felt that at this time there was no need for women police but they did make a slight concession and Miss Broome, a female probation officer, could assist the police in cases of indecency. After this, mention for the need of a Women’s Police Department was made by various organisations on a yearly basis and in 1940 Miss Joan Edwards was appointed an Inspector of the first Police Reserve and she was put in charge of an authorised establishment of ten. It was difficult to recruit this number, but this appointment, together with the Women’s Auxiliary Police Force was the foundation of the Women’s Police in Buckinghamshire.

WAPC Doreen Hounslow 1940s
Women Special Constables also played a part in the early years
pictured here is WSC Phyllis Bayne
taken in the late 1940s early 1950s
WAPC Jesamine Jean Bracey-Wright
and her dog Panda 1940s

One of the first full time Bucks Women Police Constables was WPC 1 Olive Kemp, pictured below,who joined the Constabulary on the 10th September 1945. Her pay was 79/- per week (just under £4). She was 22 years old and received a number of commendations during her 31years service, retiring on the 10th September 1976.

Pictured Left WPC 1 Olive Kemp in 1946

Right WPC 1 Olive Kemp and
WPC Cathleen Harrison taken in the 1940s

This photograph was taken to show
the new design hat worn by WPCs
On the left wearing the new style hat
WPC Bessie Hobson and
WPC Olive Kemp in the old style hat. Early 1950s
WPC 1 Olive Kemp 1960s

Most female recruits did their initial training at Ryton-on Dunsmore, Warwickshire, which was a mixed Police Training establishment although some were sent to Dishforth, Thirsk, North Yorkshire. They all completed thirteen weeks training, the same as their male colleagues and the training was exactly the same.

Pictured below is a passing out parade at Ryton-on Dunsmore in January 1966. In the front row, 7th from the right is WPC Penny Prinz and WPC 26 Valerie Smith is in the second row on the end.

When they arrived at their stations their duties were the same as the men, including foot patrols, panda and car patrols dealing with traffic accidents and the subsequent enquiries, shoplifting etc. although they tended to specialise more on issues involving women and children, places of safety, rape and indecent assault. In some areas they were issued their own police vehicle (a green mini) to carry out their enquiries. Other duties included front desk, court usher, prisoner escorts and switchboard operators at weekends. They also worked on CID and some, as in the case of WPC 13 Angela Sherwood, training as fingerprint officers. Women did not work nights unless there was a woman prisoner in the cells, in which case the late turn WPC (4pm - midnight) would stay on and work until 8am the next day. They could also be called out during the night if their services were required. They did not receive overtime, they were given time off in lieu instead. WPCs 33 Jeannette Rolfe and Bessey (Pip) Hobson had the last case of drink driving in Slough under the old Road Traffic Act, which went to Aylesbury Crown Court on a not guilty plea. The offender was found guilty.

Arrest Left to right
WPC 26 Valerie Smith, WPC 24 Janet Warner
and WPC 25 Pat Pitfield.
Slough 1966
WPCs were frequently used as observers in Traffic Patrol Cars.
Pictured here in one of the Forces fleet of Jaguars is
WPC 9 Dickens and PC 375 Frederick Williams 1964
Traffic violation

WPC 26 Valerie Smith. Slough 1966

Traffic Duty
Woman Police Sergeant Irene Jones, Aylesbury 1953.
Foot Patrol
WPC 16 Sonya Hatchett, Aylesbury around 1961.
WPS 4 Sheila Gray and one of the Green Mini's used for enquiries

Woman Police Sergeant 4 Sheila Gray (below & above), who transferred from East Riding on the 1st May 1963, was the first woman police officer to have
police accommodation the Police House at Iver. She lived in the house from 1963 to 1970.

Sport and First Aid were always encouraged by the Force and this was no exception for Women Police Constables. WPC 13 Angela Sherwood was a member of the WPCs First Aid Team and took part in a number of national competitions. On a sporting note you will see here pictures showing them playing football with their male colleagues in the mid-1960s.

Policewomen's Football Team around 1966

Click on the picture to see other pictures of the game.

Back row from left to right:

Police Sergeant 4 Sheila Gray, WPC 24 Janet Warner, WPC 10 Angie Town, WPC 26 Valerie Smith and DC 11 Muriel (Birdie) Shenton.

Front row left to right:

WPC 12 Maxine Almond, Cadet Jane Porter, Cadet (name unknown) and WPC 25 Pat Pitfield.

Group photograph of the WPCs new summer uniform 1965

Back row left to right: WPC 9 Beryl Dickens, WPC Jo Walsh, WPC 12 Maxine Almond, twins Jackie (WPC 15) & Veronica (WPC 23) Burrows, WPC17 Mary Thompson, WPC 13 Angela Sherwood, WPC 24 Janet Warner,
WPC 6 Christine Barnicott, WPC 10 Angie Town, N/K,

Front row left to right: WPC 3 Moira Gall, WPC 2 Mamie Hay, Woman Inspector Mary Danby, ACC George Wilkinson , CC Brigadier John Cheney, WPS 4 Sheila Gray, WPS 16 Sonia Hatchet, WPC 19 Amy Port,
WPC 8 Doreen Baker.

A new summer uniform was tried in 1965. It was first noticed in Marks and Spencer, Aylesbury by WPC 13 Angela Sherwood who suggested to Inspector Danby that this would be ideal for summer use for women officers. The dresses already had epaulets so the only change necessary was to add the force buttons which was carried out by the force tailor. As the dresses only had small pockets the WPCs were supplied with large handbags to carry their equipment. Eventually Marks and Spencer ran out of supplies and the uniform was discontinued by the time of the amalgamation in 1968.

WPS 4 Sheila Gray 1965
WPC 9 Beryl Dickens 1965
WPC 26 Valerie Smith 1966

In 1968 the Bucks Constabulary amalgamated with four other forces forming the Thames Valley Constabulary - later Thames Valley Police. This poster, with
WPC 30 Carol Vine (ex-Bucks), was used to advertise for women police officers. It was the women in the early days in the police who paved the way for the women police officers of today. These officers, now known simply as PCs, carry out exactly the same work as their male colleague’s and are now able to attain high office as
for example,Thames Valley Police’s present Chief Constable Sara Thornton.