90 Years of Service by South Australian Women PolicePrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Stephen Warren

The plaque commemorates 90 years of service to the community by South Australian Women Police.


Address:Wakefield Street & Victoria Square, St Francis Xavier`s Cathedral, Adelaide, 5000
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -34.929154
Long: 138.600975
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Government
Actual Event Start Date:01-December-1915
Actual Event End Date:01-December-2005


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Thursday 28th April, 2005
Front Inscription

Police Heritage Plaque 

This plaque commemorates the 90 years of valuable and dedicated service by South Australian women police to the community of South Australia, since their inception in 1915.

At 9.00am on the 1st December 1915 history was created when Miss Fanny Kate Boadicea Cocks (Kate Cocks) was appointed as Principal, Women Police Branch, and Miss Annie Ross as her assistant.  They were the first women police officers in the British Empire with the same powers and privileges as male officers.  Their appointment attracted wide attention and within a short time other police forces around the world followed South Australia`s envious example.

Thier first office was situated in an apartment house at the site now occupied by the former Municipal Tramway Trust building on the corner of Victoria Square and Angas Street Adelaide.

As early as 1866 there were concerns amongst colonists regarding the welfare of children, and the State Children`s Department was responsible for the care of young people.  However, as years followed, due to increases in population and immigration, it became evident that the department was having difficulty coping with the serious problem of girls arriving in the city of Adelaide and being procured for prostitution.  The rise in misconduct by youth generally added to the problem.  On the 30th June 1914 an organisation known as the State Childrens Council submitted a recommendation to the Chief Secretary that women police be appointed.  The public strongly supported this initiative, and at the opening of Parliament on the 8th July 1915, the Governor Sir Henry Galway announced that the government proposed to appoint "Women Police  Patrols".

Miss Cocks` policing efforts reflect a lasting credit to her and the South Australia Police generally.  After serving from 1915, she officially retired in May 1935, the same year she was made a 'Member of the British Empire` (MBE) in recognition of her exemplary police and community service.  In retirement she continued serving the community by creating the Kate Cocks Babies Home at Brighton.

Women in policing throughout the world have benefited from the early work of these pioneer police women, particularly through the foundations laid by Kate Cocks.  In South Australia women have been promoted, on merit, to high positions in the South Australia Police and are now well represented in the many roles of policing, in service to the community.

This plaque was jointly unveiled on Police Foundation Day, 28 April 2005, by
Mr Malcom A. Hyde APM Commissioner of Police
Mr Michael Harbison The Right Hon. The Lord Mayor of Adelaide

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au