South West Wales

Force's first female sergeant reflects on her service

Jean Evans Image copyright Dyfed-Powys Police
Image caption WPC Evans joined the force in 1953 when policing was male dominated

Armed with just a whistle, made to keep her hair short and abandoned in the countryside - life was not easy for a female police officer in the 1950s.

Jean Evans, from St Clears, joined Carmarthenshire Constabulary as a Woman Police Constable in 1953, aged 21.

In 1958 she was promoted to sergeant in Carmarthenshire and Cardiganshire Constabulary - the first female in the force to rise to the rank.

Now in her eighties, Mrs Evans said the role was very different to that today.

"Discipline was strict," she said.

"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."

Image copyright Dyfed-Powys Police
Image caption WPC Evans and Supt Sherwood demonstrating the force's new wireless communications at the 1964 eisteddfod in Cardigan

In the 1950s, policewomen were responsible for dealing with women and children, and one of Mrs Evans' responsibilities as a sergeant was to supervise policewomen in other stations.

She would regularly visit each of the 39 pubs in Carmarthen, where underage drinking was rife and indecent language was "dealt with firmly", with the culprits often ending up in court.

Mrs Evans said: "All we had was a whistle and no radios or anything like that."

She recalled a day when she was dropped off at a road block in the countryside and forgotten about.

"I had to eat blackberries from the hedgerow until I was picked up," she said.

"As darkness fell I managed to get a message to headquarters via a passing motorist. It turned out the suspects had been arrested earlier and I had been forgotten."

Image copyright Dyfed-Powys Police
Image caption WPC Evans during the River Towy floods of 1955

One of the first cases Mrs Evans was involved in was the notorious 1953 Pendine murders of John and Phoebe Harries, which were investigated by Det Supt John Capstick of Scotland Yard.

Their nephew Ronnie Harries was convicted of their murders and was one of the last men to be hanged in Wales.

Fresh out of training school, Mrs Evans was tasked with looking after the families involved during the court proceedings.

"Being a local girl I knew Ronnie Harries personally and was also a school friend of his wife," she said.

"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."

Image copyright Dyfed-Powys Police
Image caption Jean Evans and Dyfed-Powys Police Chief Constable Mark Collins

Mrs Evans is the widow of the late Supt Delme Evans.

Today, she is an active member of Dyfed-Powys Police National Association of Retired Police Officers and holds a number of charitable roles in the Carmarthen community.

She recently visited the police's headquarters where she presented an embroidered force crest to the Chief Constable Mark Collins.

It was originally presented to the late Ch Supt Donald Griffiths on his retirement and, after he died, it was held in the safekeeping of Mrs Evans.

She has also donated a number of items for the force museum.

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