Capsule captures history of 100 years of women in police

The time capsule at Police Scotland College, Tulliallan, celebrates 100 years of Women in Policing.
The time capsule at Police Scotland College, Tulliallan, celebrates 100 years of Women in Policing.
  • Capsule celebrates 100 years of history
  • Items include photographs and a vintage uniform
  • Women now making up to 40% of new officers
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The history of women in the police in Scotland has been captured in a time capsule at the Police Scotland College, Tulliallan.

Around 70 guests attended a reception on Wednesday to see the contents of the capsule, which is part of the celebrations marking 100 Years of Women in Policing.

The time capsule plaque.

The time capsule plaque.

The contents of the oak casket include a policewoman’s vintage tunic, old-style handcuffs, a baton of the kind previously issued to women officers, which was significantly smaller than that of their male counterparts, and designed to fit inside a police issue handbag, a cravat and a policewoman’s hat.

There are also press clippings from events which have taken place around Scotland this year to celebrate the centenary, photographs, pin badges, tributes to female officers who have died in the line of duty, and letters from serving Police Scotland officers, Special Constables and staff.

The Time Capsule was sealed by Chief Constable Sir Stephen House QPM, Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick QPM, Minister for Fair Work, Skills & Training, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, and Superintendent Suzie Mertes, chairman of the Scottish Women’s Development Forum.

It will be installed in a display cabinet in the museum at the Police Scotland College, Tulliallan.

Items which have been included in the capsule.

Items which have been included in the capsule.

Chief Constable Sir Stephen House said: “I am delighted to be able to play a part in the celebrations of 100 Years of Women in Policing today as the time capsule is sealed and preparations get under way to install it, for the next 100 years, within the museum at Police Scotland College.

“It has been wonderful to observe the celebrations taking place around the country, and in particular, the pride generated as a result of events bringing together women of all ages.

“A celebration of this kind is a welcome reminder of both the recent and more distant history of policing in Scotland, and highlights the significant and vital role women have played in helping to keep people safe.

“Great efforts have been made to ensure the police in Scotland more accurately reflect the make up of the country’s population. While Police Scotland acknowledges the need to continue that work, it is heartening to know the number of women in superintending ranks and above have leapt from just 5% in 2003 to 19% at the end of October 2015.

Some of the items which have been included in the capsule.

Some of the items which have been included in the capsule.

“Recent classes passing out at the Police Scotland College have seen women make up as much as 40% of the course. I very much hope the events throughout 2015 will encourage women to consider a career in policing.

“My hope is that everyone within Police Scotland plays a part in ensuring that over the next 100 years every part of the organisation becomes thoroughly representative of the communities we keep safe.”

Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick said: “I believe women in Police Scotland are role models, and that they inspire each other to give of their very best in their professional lives, every time they come to work and serve the public.

“When I joined the police, in 1987, women were still paired with male officers on patrol the streets, women couldn’t go out on night shifts, and there were hurdles in their way if they hoped to follow a career in certain aspects of policing, including public order.

“Thankfully, much has changed, and I am glad that’s the case. There is no rank or role in Scotland which women cannot now attain, and, speaking on behalf of my colleagues in Police Scotland, I hope we are seen as a modern, fair and diverse organisation where women can thrive and develop themselves.

“As we recognise the contribution women have made to policing in Scotland throughout the past 100 years, we cannot forget the seven women who have laid down their lives in the line of duty: WPC Isabella Harris; PC Melanie Igoe; PC Jacqueline Haswell; PC Karen Balfour; PC Kirsty Allan; and DC Diane Donald.

“Most recently, in 2013, PC Kirsty Nelis lost her life when the Police Scotland helicopter she was working onboard crashed into the Clutha Vaults Bar in Glasgow - a crash which also claimed nine other lives.

“The 100 years of Women in Policing celebrations have been a resounding success. Friendships have been made, old bonds strengthened, and generations brought together, with retired officers and staff, as well as the Police Scotland Youth Volunteers, playing significant roles.”

Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training Roseanna Cunningham MSP said: “The casket that we are sealing today will be a permanent reminder of the contribution of women to policing, and the progress that has been made, from a few pioneering individuals 100 years ago to where we are today. I have absolutely no doubt women will continue to make a powerful and growing contribution to the continued success of Scotland’s policing in the years ahead.”

Superintendent Suzie Mertes, Scottish Women’s Development Forum chair, said: “The SWDF has been delighted to be involved with the 100 years of Women in Policing celebrations in Scotland this year, and, as chair, it has been a privilege to oversee the events which have taken place.

“I am so proud of the achievements of women in policing in Scotland over the last century, and am very excited to see what changes take place in the coming years. The 100 years of Women in Policing celebrations have been a triumph, providing tangible links from the past to the present, and with the sealing of the time capsule today, a link to the present.

“I am honoured to have been invited to seal the capsule on behalf of the SWDF and its members. I very much hope that when it is opened in 100 years its contents will provide a valuable resource to women in policing in the future.”

The Time Capsule was funded by the Scottish Police Credit Union.

George Nedley, Chief Executive of the Scottish Police Credit Union said: “We feel it’s very important to celebrate the significant contribution women have made to policing over the last 100 years. As part of the Police family, we are delighted to be attending and supporting such a worthwhile event”