Portsmouth’s ‘trailblazer’ first woman police inspector dies aged 100

Hampshire Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney and the late Gladys Howard
Hampshire Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney and the late Gladys Howard
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TRIBUTES have been paid to a former city Lord Mayor who has died at the age of 100.

Widely-respected Gladys Howard, the first woman police inspector in Portsmouth, has been hailed as ‘exceptional’ and a pioneer for women in policing.

Gladys in one her father's carriages circa 1938

Gladys in one her father's carriages circa 1938

Born on December 4, 1916, to Rita and James Howard, she lived in St James’s Street, Portsea, as a child before attending Portsea Free School in Richmond Place.

She then took a place at Portsmouth Grammar School for Girls in Southsea, leaving aged 16 and taking up a job as clerk at Timothy Whites.

During the Second World War, the offices were bombed and she went to the Labour exchange to get a job in 1941.

She later spent six years in the civil service before joining Portsmouth City Police in 1947. She took up her post as WPC 4 Howard in April 1948 at Portsmouth police headquarters in Byculla House.

Gladys with children at the Police Christmas Party circa 1952

Gladys with children at the Police Christmas Party circa 1952

When she retired in 1976 due to her age she wept as she handed in her uniform.

But she continued to serve the public, winning a by-election for Kingston (now Milton) ward, and served as a councillor for 13 years. She was Lord Mayor of Portsmouth in 1989 and was made an honorary alderman in 1990.

Gladys, who died at home in Milton on Wednesday, was a member of the Portsmouth and Gosport district branch of the National Association of Retired Police Officers.

Committee member Chris Scott, 77, of Cowplain, told The News: ‘It’s a great loss and she will be sorely missed.’

Gladys on patrol with a fellow WPC

Gladys on patrol with a fellow WPC

Mr Scott, who was awarded his long service medal by Gladys in 1989, added: ‘She was widely-respected by all concerned.

‘From a very young age, right to when she stood down as a councillor, she’s given outstanding, exceptional, service to the community and the city of Portsmouth.’

Known for her care of children, she worked with the NSPCC and just a year into her police service brought a girl into a station for safety.

Police historian Dr Clifford Williams has recorded some of her recollections after meeting with her over the past 18 months.

He said: ‘Gladys was dedicated to public service and had a particular regard for the welfare of children.

‘She was devoted to the city and her public roles in it demonstrated that.’

Hampshire police’s chief constable Olivia Pinkney, who met Gladys at her birthday celebration at the Marriott Hotel in December, said: ‘She was an inspiration to us all, as a pioneer for women leaders in modern policing and as such a thoughtful and caring member of our police family.

‘She will be truly missed.’