The South Australia Women Police Branch came into operation on 1st December, 1915. Miss Kate Cocks and Miss Annie Ross were appointed as Constables, the primary reason being the growing social problem of immorality in the community, particularly in relation to young girls. The Branch was the first Women Police Service in the then British Empire, and the second in the world. (Los Angeles appointed a Women Police Office in 1910.)
Since their inception, South Australia Women Police have had the same powers of apprehension as male officers. For many years, the work of Women Police was oriented largely towards preventative policing in social welfare fields where they performed very useful but restricted duties, dealing with matters relating mainly to women and children. They performed their duties in plain clothes.
The only opportunity for promotion came within the Branch and they were usually not regarded as part of the general seniority list. By 1974 there were 45 Women Police in South Australia and soon after this, following an extensive survey into the role of women in the Force, the Branch was re-organised. The majority of Women Police are now employed in uniform patrol and general duties in metropolitan and country areas and the remainder work in a wide range of specialist areas including C.I.B., Drug Task Force, Prosecution, Academy, Administration ,Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Units.
Until 1973 only single women were permitted to join, and they had to resign if they married. Now married women are accepted as recruits and women who marry after joining are allowed to remain in the Force. Part time employment and maternity leave is also available to Women Police members.
Until 1979 all female recruitment was for adult women, but in March 1979, for the first time, girls from 17 years of age joined the Force as Cadets. In later years police recruits [female and male] were appointed Constables when they reached the age of 19 years with their training period varying between six and twelve months. Female recruits undergo the same selection, standards and training as male officers. There are no restrictions as to the career paths or promotional opportunities offered.
Women Police Principals
The following are extracts from the book "To Walk a Fair Beat"
1915 - 1935 Kate Cocks
1935 - 1940 Mary Wilcher
1940 - 1951 Daisy Curtis
1951 - 1952 Violet Curtis
1952 - 1953 Mary Poole
1953 - 1965
1965 - 1974 Joyce Richardson.
On the retirment of Joyce Richardson, the position of Principal, Women Police was discontinued.
Fay Leditschke was the first female Commissioned Officer in SAPOL in 1979.
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