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Thames Valley Police celebrate International Women's Day

Thames Valley Police are celebrating International Women's Day by remembering the long history women have in the local police force.

In 1917, Grace Costin became the first female officer in the Thames Valley. Fast forward 90 years and Sara Thorton became the force's first female Chief Constable. You can see a full timetable on the history of women in the force below:

1917 - Grace Costin becomes the first police officer in the Thames Valley region.


1941 - First women join Reading Borough Police force: Elizabeth Young and Jenny Timberlake.


1968 – Thames Valley Police is formed in on 1 April 1968; there were 2,960 officers and 1,108 special constables at that time.


1974 - Sergeant Shelia Gray, based in Slough, became the first woman in the force to receive a New Year’s Honour when she was awarded the British Empire Medal.


1980 - Women officers were provided with trousers to be worn ‘when neccesary’ as an alternative to their uniform skirt.


1983 -First female dog handler at Thames Valley Police, Lynn Whitaker.


2007 - Sara Thornton became the force’s first Chief Constable. She was in post for eight years, leaving in 2015 to become the first head of the National Police Chiefs Council.

Thames Valley Police have also released some statistics showing that the total number of female officers in the force has more than doubled in the 30 years since 1989, going from 211 to 1,419.

On the rise in female numbers in the force, Detective Superintendent Bhupinder Rai the Head of Force CID said:

"I joined TVP in 1992 after responding to a leaflet drop. I was interested in joining it sounded exciting but never really thought I would get in. I applied anyway and hey presto. The numbers of female officers has risen steadily over the years I have been with TVP. That is encouraging as is the force’s focus on gender."

Female staff members have also posed for a special photograph, recreating a picture taken back in 1987:

Image credit: Thames Valley Police

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