March 15, 1945
“These valiant women” was how the Lord Mayor of Liverpool (Lord Sefton) described the Liverpool Women Police Patrols when he presided at their annual meeting yesterday, at the Town Hall.
They should know, added his lordship, that while they were working in the streets there were people who were sympathetic towards them and thoroughly appreciative of the services they were rendering in such trying and difficult circumstances with so much skill and tact.
At the close of the meeting the Lord Mayor, on behalf of friends and supporters, presented a substantial cheque to Miss W. Tidd Pratt, for the past fourteen years director of the patrols, who is retiring after twenty-five years’ service with the organisation. The Lady Mayoress was present.
Seekers of excitement.
Danger to girls were referred to in the annual report presented by Miss Tidd Pratt. Dealing with the uniform patrolling of the principal thoroughfares, the report stated that Lime Street and the station were still a recognised meeting place for girls who came into the city to pick up members of the Allied forces. Some came from outlying towns just to see what amusement was to be had, and got taken up by undesirable older women and girls who frequented the city and who introduced them to their friends in the Services.
It was especially for those casual young visitors who sought excitement in the companionship of men that a watchful look-out was kept by the patrols in order that they miht be warned and sent home before they came to harm.
The number of boys begging in the street had greatly risen; they could collect up to 7s a night. “Our American friends may be rather to blame giving small boys chewing gum and money, they are tempting them away from their homes.”
When possible, the report stated, the boys were taken home and the patrol had a talk with the parents. Some of the boys were reported to the education authorities.
Chinese and foreign eating-houses in the south end of the city, the report continued attracted young women away from home. These girls existed without identity cards or ration books, and thereby evaded National Service. They were generally to be found in the company of Chinese seamen. The patrol who visited these cafes on her rounds was welcomed by the owners, and they often asked her advice on how to deal with their customers. An average of twenty young girls were spoken to on an evening’s patrol.
A grave menace.
Much plain-clothes patrolling had been done, including early morning visits to Chinese and other houses in the foreign quarters. The fluctuating foreign population presented a grave menace to young girls. There appeared to be a regular stream of girls from neighbouring towns who, in some cases, were known to have been brought by older men and women. The patrols had found many in foreign boarding-houses and had taken them to the Hostel of Girls.
Miss Tidd Pratt said that in the last war the problem was with girls of seventeen to eighteen years of age. In this war the patrols had to deal with girls as young as thirteen to fifteen who said they were eighteen and got themselves up to look much older than their years.
Referring to anxiety among voluntary bodies and private individuals on the subject of drinking among juveniles, the report said two patrols had made a survey of city public-houses. It would appear that most of the complaints about excessive drinking among girls might have been based on isolated instances. There were few signs of real drunkenness, but many juveniles appeared in public-houses with coloured men.
Attested women police?
Miss. M.H. Cowlin, a Bristol magistrate, who was the first director of the Liverpool Women Police Patrols, referred to types of cases which the women patrols were obliged to hand over to the police at a critical stage. She could not help feeling that Liverpool, always a pioneer city, having begun a good work should carry it to its logical conclusion and have in its city police force a body of trained, fully attested women with whom the women patrols on the street could co-operate when they handed over cases and with whom they could later do after-care work which did not come within the scope of police work.
Superintendent D. Peto (Metropolitan Police), another former director of the Liverpool Women Police Patrols, spoke on the problem of young people in the city streets and emphasised the importance of providing wise counter-attractions for them in their own localities.
A warm tribute to the wisdom, courage and patience with which Miss Tidd Pratt has carried out her duties was passed by Miss Jessie Beavan, hon. treasurer. Mrs. V.E. Cotton, chairman of the organisation, also thanked Miss Tidd Pratt for her great services and welcomed her successor, Mrs. Wilkins.
(Liverpool Daily Post: March 16, 1945)