London

'Lady truncheons' and uniforms on show to mark 100 years of women in Met

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption The so-called "lady truncheons" were specially designed to fit into the standard handbag size in the 1980s

So-called "lady truncheons" - designed to be small enough to fit in a handbag - are part of an exhibition to mark 100 years of women in the Met Police.

The truncheons, along with past uniforms and officer recruitment ads, are on show at the Met Heritage Centre.

Documents on display show how women were not trusted to handle intelligence in the early days, instead they had to pass information on to male officers.

The force aims to boost the percentage of women officers from 26% to 50%.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption The Queen's wedding and coronation gown designer, Norman Hartnell, was hired to sketch designs for the 1968 uniform as it was thought it needed to be glamorous to attract recruits
Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Uniforms worn by female police officers, including this one from 1918, are on display

Other items on display include "Women Police" signs that used to be a common sight in police stations, as well as the lists of stringent entry requirements for female officers.

These included criteria such as height, age and marital status.

Applicants even had to submit to dental tests that barred those with an "overbite".

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption The initial recruits went to department store Harrods for a fitting of their uniforms

Curator Dr Clare Smith and her team have selected items which cover themes of recruitment, uniform, anniversaries, sport and achievements.

She said she hoped the exhibition would encourage people to contact them with artefacts relating to women's policing that have been handed down through their families.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption With the onset of World War One, two organisations recruited women to patrol the streets - Nina Boyle had been a prominent Suffragette and along with Margaret Damer Dawson, they formed the Women Police Volunteers in 1914

Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said: "I hope that these real life examples the public can explore of battling prejudice, overcoming adversity and always taking pride in the job, prove an inspiration for women to come and help us forge the path ahead as we look to recruit a new generation of officers for the future."

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption This newspaper article from 1914 shows Volunteer Patrol women on the streets of London

Future plans include creating an online database and working with colleagues across the Met to grow the collection.

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