Last week saw the UK's longest service female firearms officer, PC Gillian Spence from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, speak at a conference to celebrate a century of women in policing.
The conference was held at Sedgley Park in Manchester on Friday (14/5), and 170 officers and staff from police forces across the country, including the CNC, Cumbria, North Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside, Manchester and Northern Ireland, attended. It was organised by women’s networks from both within and outside of the region, and marked the ground-breaking appointment of the first female police officer in 1915.
The Women Police Service was founded in 1914, and in 1915 Grantham swore in Mrs Edith Smith, giving her full powers of arrest.
PC Gillian Spence, based at Dounreay, joined the CNC in July 1977 at Windscale, now known as Sellafield, and became an Authorised Firearms Officer (AFO) in 1982. She was posted to Risley in 1987 before transferring to Dounreay in 1991, where she has spent the last 22 years. In total, she has served 33 years as an AFO.
She was asked to speak at the conference about her many achievements, which include becoming a senior public order instructor, carrying out road and marine escorts, and becoming a confrontational skills instructor. After her presentation to the conference attendees, Gillian was presented with a commemorative goblet and a commendation certificate for her achievements.
Ch Supt Joyce Robertson, from the CNC, said: “The conference provided a fantastic opportunity for female CNC officers to meet colleagues from Home Office forces across the country and celebrate just how far women in policing have come over the last century.
“There have been huge changes over the years for women in policing, including the uniform and equipment, and I am proud a CNC officer played a role in this event, which recognised the important role women have played and continue to play in policing.”
Deputy Chief Constable Michelle Skeer, from Cumbria Constabulary, suggested the conference, which led to the formation of the organising committee. She said: “Women have progressed so far in the last 100 years, and I think it is important we stop and recognise the hard work of the women who came before us.
“The conference was a great success, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who kindly donated their time and services to help mark this important milestone.”
Over £1,000 was raised at the event for the Nicola Hughes Memorial Fund from fund raising activities including a raffle for an exclusive tour of the McLaren factory and the sale of pin badges.
The conference also featured displays of police women uniforms over the years, and a number of stalls showing the history of women in policing.