Retired Sergeant Bobby Kovacs

Bobby served with BTP for 25 years. She ended her career in Birmingham in the late 1970s now in her late 80s, still lives in the West Midlands.

Retired PC Bobby Kovacs

The role of women in policing has come a long way since Bobby Kovacs joined the force in 1951. A former driver in the Army, 22-year-old WPC Staniforth as she was then, came to the role with a military work ethic and a clear sense of duty. But, as the only woman based at Harwich Parkeston Quay, some of her male colleagues had slightly different expectations.

“I was put in the office and told to organise the stationery,” she recalls, brows slightly raised. “I didn’t join the police to turn out the stationery office and so, when I was asked to put the order in, instead of requesting 24 pencils my finger must have slipped and I accidentally ordered 240.”

Bobby KovacsNeedless to say, she was swiftly taken out of the stationery office and took her rightful place on patrol, carrying out immigration checks alongside other officers. In 1964, she was part of the first wave of women sergeants in the force and moved to Birmingham New Street on promotion.

She played a vital role in the Stechford rail crash of 1967 by setting up a temporary mortuary in the station waiting room.

“We used to have exercises on what to do during a rail crash and that was my specific role,” the former officer recalls. “I didn’t see much of the wreckage as I was focused on what I was doing – trying to identify bodies by what was on them and putting any valuables into bags.”

And it was a task she performed with dedication and professionalism, which later earned her the Whitbread Shield for police officer of the year.

It is thanks to women like Bobby, being bold in those early days of women in policing, that the force is now a more equal workplace. #BeBoldForChange

Thanks to BTP History Group for their help with researching this feature.