Life in the Met and Lords
- Baroness Jenny Hilton
15th December 2020
At the beginning of Jenny Hilton’s 34 years in the Metropolitan Police, women constituted less than 1% of the force. Her entertaining and insightful memoir highlights some of the major social changes over the past 60 years and the difficulties experienced by a woman in a man’s world.
The book paints a vivid picture of London of the 1950s and 1960s, of changing attitudes to class and gender in society and the problems of racism, corruption and heavy drinking which were rife among colleagues.
During her early years, policewomen were largely a specialist branch and were relied upon by the men to deal with prostitutes, teenagers and neglected children. It was only after the introduction of equal opportunities legislation and the loss of their specialist status that she became conscious of sexism and resentment in the force.
Hilton progressed through the ranks to the rank of commander and by 1986 she was one of only two senior policewomen in the Met, at a time when pro-rata there should have been twenty-five. Upon retiring from the force, she was appointed a life peer in the House of Lords.