The Thinner Blue Line


After a day of rain, a beautiful evening, but coming too late in the day for many to appreciate it.  Anyone who might have fancied a day by the seaside would have given up long ago, driven away by water from above or by rising tides before.

As I arrived at Roker the tide was just turning and there was beautiful sand aplenty, blue skies, and still a bit of warmth in the sun.  I wasn’t here for that though, and having the beach to yourself is no privilege when you’re looking for a portrait.

No worries today though for my quarry was unmistakable, though when my wife saw them their picture she commented that they looked “too young and bonny to be police officers“.  Technically of course they are not.  They are PCSO’s, Police Community Support Officers, individuals who support the police and carry out a limited range of duties to allow the regular police officer to concentrate on “more appropriate duties”!

Nevertheless they are employed by the police, as women have been for nearly a century, though it wasn’t until 1973 that they were fully integrated into the force rather than treated as a separate service.  The original women’s force was recruited to tackle prostitution, rather than as any sort of parallel to the Met, and it seems to have taken way too long to have closed the gender gap.

I’m sure there are many battles still to be fought for equality in the police force, just as there are in many other walks of life, but we’ve come some way when being “young and bonny” isn’t a barrier to being able to tackle anti social behaviour, and you don’t need to be so tall as to get good leverage with a truncheon either.

I don’t know what the difference in their uniforms signifies, but rank doesn’t matter to me – they are simply Emma and Sarah.