19 Apr 2017

The woman who became Carmarthenshire and Cardiganshire’s first police sergeant tells how policing has changed in the 60 years since she became an officer.

Mrs Jean Evans, from St Clears, joined Carmarthenshire Constabulary as a Woman Police Constable in 1953, aged 21. She was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in Carmarthenshire and Cardiganshire Constabulary, nearly 60 years ago [1958] - becoming the first female Sergeant in the Force.

At that time policing was male-dominated, and the role of the Woman Police Sergeant was very different to that of her male colleagues. Now in her eighties, Mrs Evans recalls her time in the service:

“In the 50s Policewomen were responsible for dealing with women and children. One of my responsibilities as a female Sergeant was to supervise Policewomen in other stations; I regularly visited Aberystwyth, Ammanford and Llanelli.

“I would regularly visit each of the 39 public houses in Carmarthen; under-age drinking was one problem area, and any indecent language was dealt with firmly - often ending up in court! In such cases the officer would not be allowed to speak the actual words in Court and instead had to write them down to be passed to the magistrate.

“Discipline was strict. Policewomen were required to keep their hair short, not wear jewellery and seldom removed their hats. Indeed, if you were seen without your hat you would be put on a charge!

“Life as a young Policewoman was very different years ago. All we had was a whistle - no radios or anything like that. I was once dropped off at a road block in the countryside and forgotten about! As darkness fell I managed to get a message to headquarters via a passing motorist, but had to eat blackberries from the hedgerow until I was picked up… It turned out the suspects had been arrested hours earlier and I had been forgotten!”

One of the first cases Jean was involved in was the notorious 1953 Pendine Murders of John and Phobe Harries. These were investigated by Superintendent Capstick of Scotland Yard. Fresh out of training school, Jean was given the role of looking after the families involved, during the court proceedings.

“Being a local girl I knew Ronald Harries personally, and was also a school friend of his wife. I was in court throughout the trial and witnessed him being found guilty of murder and the judge donning his black cap sentencing Harries to hang. Carmarthen town square was full of people throughout the trial, they gathered daily from 3:30am.”

Jean is currently an active member of Dyfed-Powys Police National Association of Retired Police Officers and holds a number of charitable roles in the Carmarthen Community. Jean is the widow of the late Superintendent Delme Evans.

Jean visited Dyfed-Powys Police headquarters on Thursday, March 23, 2017, where she presented an embroidered force crest to the Chief Constable, Mark Collins. The framed crest was originally presented to the late Chief Superintendent Donald Griffiths upon his retirement, and following his passing it was held in the safe keeping of Jean. Jean has also donated a number of items for the Force museum.