Today I was filled with so many memories. At a Service of Thanksgiving to mark the centenary of police women in the Metropolitan Police Service. Officers mirroring a photograph taken of some of the Met’s first women police officers displaying their new uniform, on Clive Steps in Westminster. This photograph recreates a photo of women officers, originally taken in 1919, in celebration of 100 years of women in policing. Me, standing in blue. A colleague still serving at the end. So many stories and memories. We worked tirelessly during the Riots in London and the Fire at Reeves Corner Croydon, February 2012. One of many many memories.
On 17th May 1919, several members of the new formed women police appeared in uniform for the first time at a service, held at Westminster Abbey, paying tribute to the Met officers who had lost their lives in the Great War. Exactly 100 years to the day, a thanksgiving service echos this historical event and pays tribute to those pioneering officers, as well as celebrating the diversity and achievements of their current officers.
Looking back over history and all that we achieved. Personally serving as a probationer on Croydon Borough. Being promoted to uniform sergeant to Streatham and Brixton. One of the first officers to go part time, 3 months after our daughter was born. To start wearing trousers and stop carrying a handbag. I spent 15 years in uniform and 15 years in the CID. One of the very few female Detective Inspectors at the time. Serving in many departments. In the end specialising and becoming an expert in the area of rape and serious sexual violence. Which in time, had a devastating affect on my mind and body. It took a long time to recover and heal from my service.
Learning to define and pay attention to your own needs, to stand in strength for yourself, to make plans for your own future and career, if thats what you choose. Pay attention to your health and physical well-being, creating a solid foundation that will sustain you. Maintaining boundaries, healthy food, exercise, keeping the company of good friends and family. All are important in maintaining a healthy balance.
I couldn’t tell you how many traumatic cases I’ve dealt with over the years . Always being able to take things in my stride. Towards the end of my career, with the additional pressures, of lack of resources, constant demands and pressures from the public to do more with less. The thought of another life taken and another shattered family became too much to bear. When my mind and body began to break down, turning to yoga for support. Where else was I to go. No one fully understood the horrors we face each day. the cropping thought. “I don’t know if I can do this any more” meant it was time to retire. It took a long time to heal from the pressures of what had become modern day policing.
It was wonderful to stand this week very proud. By marking the significant milestone in the Met’s history acknowledging the bravery, perseverance, ambition and drive of women officers from the past and present.
Personally I found the Metropolitan Police a forward thinking organisation. Who brought in equality for women. I hope our incredible achievements can inspire future generations of Metroplitan Police Women.
I hope the opportunities continue to pour in.
Saying thank you is important.
Thank you for your service and
Thank you for a wonderful day..