Following in the family footsteps

In August 1915, Edith Smith was appointed the first woman Police Constable in England with full powers of arrest.

100 years later, her great-great grandson Darren Coleman has followed in her footsteps. He is a Special Constable with Bedfordshire Police, with a view to becoming a regular officer in the future. He tells us more in this blog…

SC Darren Coleman

I am not sure if I’d say that policing is in my blood, but it definitely runs in the family.

My great great grandmother, Edith Smith, was the first female Police Constable in England with powers of arrest. I have followed in Edith’s footsteps and 100 years later I find myself as a Special Constable with Bedfordshire Police.

Edith joined the police in 1915 and served until 1918. She worked in Grantham, Lincolnshire, and she dealt with cases where women were involved; she supervised female searches, took sex offence statements and acted as a probation officer for young girls.

When she was appointed, the Grantham Journal said that policewomen were ‘a distinct advantage to the town’. I think she proved them right.

I have always wanted to join the Police, and I joined the Special Constabulary because I thought it would give me a good background in policing.

My time as a Special has certainly been varied. You never know what you’re going to deal with on a shift. I could be dealing with anything from arresting shoplifters to searching for missing persons or pulling over vehicles and dealing with nuisance motorcycles. Nothing surprises me anymore because absolutely anything can happen on shift.

At the moment I volunteer around 40 hours a month for the force, fitting these hours in around my day job working with young offenders.

I have always felt extremely welcome as a Special, and it’s a nice feeling being appreciated. This filters down from the inspectors the sergeants and regular officers.

Some people are Specials because, like me, they are thinking about becoming a regular officer and want to get some insight into the world of policing. Some people have some spare time and want to make a difference to their communities.

Some people enjoy their day jobs and don’t want to be a full time officer, but want to help support the police. And some just want to challenge themselves!

Whatever their reasons for joining, their contributions are all significant. The work of the Specials is so important to the force – essentially, Specials do the same jobs as regular officers, but they are volunteers.

I have loved my time as a Special and it has inspired me to apply to become a full time, regular officer with Bedfordshire Police. I have nearly finished the process and I hope I’ll still be able to work alongside my Special colleagues to fight crime, protect the public and keep Bedfordshire safe.

Edith passed away in 1924, but her legacy lives on. I wonder what she would say if she could see me today.

The next Special Constabulary Information Evening is at Police Heqadquarters in Kempston on Wednesday 6 June. To register, click here.


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