Whitchurch, Shropshire: Women Police Officers

They say there’s something about a man in uniform. The uniformed men certainly acted as a draw to the women living near the military training camps in Shropshire. So much so that people began to worry about the severe drop in moral standards. It was known as ‘Khaki Fever’.

In Whitchurch, Shropshire two women were recruited into the police force especially to deal with this problem. They were Emily Stephings and Isabella Hardy and they were given the ranks of Sergeant and Constable. They had no powers of arrest. Their job was to patrol the streets near the camps and dissuade the women against losing their virtue to the trainee recruits.

This was required by the army as well as the local moral guardians. A soldier with venereal disease wasn’t very welcome in the army. They wanted A1 healthy troops.

Stephings and Hardy continued to work in the police force until 1920. They were amongst the first policewomen in Shropshire.

Location: Whitchurch Police Station, Whitchurch, Shropshire SY13 1RE
Photograph of Staffordshire policewomen in the early 1900s, courtesy of West Midlands Police Museum

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