WPC Florence Schipper started her career in the 1930s, when female officers were not on an equal footing with their male counterparts.
A Staffordshire woman, Florence joined Birmingham Police in 1933. She was paid the grand salary of fifty pence a week – nearly 8p less than her male colleagues.
Unlike today, policewomen back in the thirties were given very different tasks to men. Their duties mainly involved child protection, general administration, searching and dealing with female prisoners and the occasional raid on a brothel.
Florence first became interested in darts during the early part of the Second World War. Policewomen were used in fire watching, even when there were no air raids expected. During these long, dull hours Florence helped pass the time by playing darts.
Remembering this time, Florence said: “In the early part of the war the men nearly always won any darts match which I was playing against them – I always got my leg pulled!”
Florence got better at the game however, and went on to win the All England Policewoman’s Darts Championships held in Preston in 1952. She beat off stiff competition from a Norwich policewomen, beating her two games to one.
After her victory she was quoted as saying: “Now I’ve learnt to play and I’m winning, the men don’t like taking me on!
Even though Florence was promoted to Sergeant in 1945, her salary still lagged behind that of the male sergeants and she was not allow to manage policemen, only police women. She retired in 1961 after a career of ‘exemplary’ service.