Should she be worried at the thought of giving her talk for the first time to the all male audience of the Probus Club of Basingstoke? After all she had almost thirty years’ experiences to call upon, all far more serious than this. The good, the bad and the downright funny is how Jackie Dimmock described situations she encountered as an officer in the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Police. Discounting the usual Powerpoint slides, instead she used her hobby of quilting to amusingly illustrate some of her varied incidents as customs and practices changed over the years.
The W in WPC eventually went missing, as a Police Constable had that rank irrespective of gender. However, the uniform did not change until later so she had a straight skirt, stockings and suspenders. Not the most practical attire when responding to a reported break in and forced to climb over a school wall after her male colleague jokingly told her that the gate was locked.
In those days she was issued with a radio but had to buy a pair of handcuffs and a small truncheon that fitted inside her shoulder bag which she would swing with great effect at miscreants.Trousers came later, but these were men’s trousers and consequently fitted women badly. Today female Police Constables have tailored trousers, advanced radios, CS sprays, handcuffs, cameras and stab vests.
Undertaking a police driving course, Jackie was inexplicably taught to double de-clutch even though the car had a synchromesh gear box. Let out in a small car, although fitted with a blue light it had no siren so she had to use the horn to get through traffic. On her first outing she made the classic error of driving the wrong way up a one way street. Chasing a suspect would have been her excuse had she been reported.
At a meeting led by the then Chief Constable she failed to ask about a report that 99% of female officers suffered sexual harassment at work. Being news to Jackie she afterwards quizzed the Chief Constable as she wondered if she was the missing one percent. He said that to rectify matters she would be welcome to visit his office anytime. How times change.
Following on from serving five years in the Child Protection Unit Jackie become a Schools Liaison officer. She was able to tease information out of children relating to domestic problems. Children told of drug addict mothers using a lighter under a tea spoon in the kitchen. Others being abused and their siblings in the same school equally suffering were unknown to teachers. Fathers who drove while drunk or did not wear a seat belt were all reported by the children.
Drug raids required a female office to be part of the team as she would be needed to handle women suspects. One raid on a bungalow the suspect escaped out of a window. Jackie leaned out trying to spot him. An inquisitive donkey came up to the window and bit Jackie’s left breast. Everyone said that they should examine the damaged area as it needed to be recorded in the accident book.
In the early days of DNA she became a scene of crimes officer. A girl had been murdered alongside the Basingstoke canal in 1981 with no suspect emerging. All the evidence was kept in Basingstoke. In 2002, in the north, a wife reported her husband for assault. Using familial DNA profiling he was eventually charged with the murder.