Photograph of RUC policewoman talking to mother and child
Dimensions: 25 x 19 cm
Organisation: Royal Ulster Constabulary
Source: Police Museum
A promotional photograph of a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) policewoman talking to a mother and child on the Castlereagh Road in Belfast. Policewomen worked for the RUC Women Police Branch. The branch had a separate structure and different ranks, regulations and duties to those of the main force. The post-war duties of policewomen were seen as "specialist". "Feminine" police work related to crime involving women and children such as sexual offences and child welfare cases. Unlike their male colleagues, policewomen had to resign on marriage, were unarmed, didn’t work at night and worked nine-tenths of the standard duty hours. Members of the RUC Women Police Branch were managed directly by central headquarters in Belfast. They were posted to divisional stations within Belfast and later Londonderry and assigned to specialist cases throughout the Province.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s the number and workload of policewomen increased. In 1955, the RUC Women Police Branch’s community policing role expanded to include point duty and court duty. In the 1960s, pairs of women police were permanently posted to regional towns such as Newry, Ballymena, Coleraine and Portadown, where they became more involved in general policing duties. By the end of the 1960s the marriage bar was lifted and the branch increased to include 59 women.