Meet Vicki Wray-Watts. She is the daughter of Superintendent Les Watts (retired) and spent the early years of her life living in the quarters attached to Fremantle Police Station and police houses attached to Cunderdin, Norseman and Cottesloe Police Stations.
A large part of Vicki’s family were WA Police Force officers however they were all men – her father, two uncles and three cousins. Having spent 18 years of her life closely involved with police, she knew the culture and thought it was something she would like to be a part of.
In September 1974, Vicki starter her career with the WA Police Force as a part of the Women’s Police under Wilma Currie. This was during the time before females were issued with uniforms or given any formal training. “I was able to join because they had lifted the requirement to have a nursing background. Recruiting took six months of on-the-job training however I was part of the first few women who were allowed to sit in the back row of some of the Police Force Academy recruit courses.”
“The Women’s Police was exciting in the 70s. It sure beat working in an office and gave me a bigger scope on a working career. You never knew what was going to happen when you went to work. Would you be assigned to do welfare work or would you be seconded off to help out on a drug raid and creep down back alley ways ready to burst through doors and windows. We wore plain clothes, a hat and a handbag and were assigned to various sections as required.”
Vicki was transferred to Northam in the 1980s just as the Women Police were issued with uniforms and was the only female there at the time. “I had my lonely little office out the back of the station but my second day I walked down the street in uniform with the Officer-In-Charge, Sergeant Jack Dalton and then I was one of the boys.”
Vicki had to resign in 1981 as she fell pregnant with her first child. At that time the WA Police Force had brought in an optional 12 months unpaid maternity leave however there were no part time jobs available for working mothers.
In January 1997, Vicki re-joined and graduated from the Academy just before she turned 48 years old. “It was tough as this was before ‘direct entry’ and before they had anyone else of that age defy the odds and return to work. At that time, I was told that if I failed any part of the course I was to be dismissed immediately – imagine the pressure. I knew I would make a great police officer once I got to the other side and I appreciated the equal opportunity the second time around of being trained alongside the men. After I graduated, I joined the Union and eventually became a union representative playing a role in promoting women in the job.”
She worked at Bayswater and Morley Police Stations before being seconded into Firearms Branch where she introduced the Weapons Act into the WA Police Force and had paint-balling legalised.” Vicki then moved to the Police Communications Centre (VKI) before travelling all over WA as a trainer. She describes her time travelling the state as fantastic. “I got to travel all over, sharing knowledge and short cuts to officers and unsworn personnel about how to more efficiently use the police computer system. I hope I helped a lot of guys and girls out there and I have a great appreciation for those who go to country postings in remote locations – thank heavens the conditions and equipment are always improving.”
During her second stint with the WA Police Force she was on the board of directors for WA Police Legacy, the Police Family Advisory Council and is now on the committee for the Retired Police Officers Association.
Vicki retired from the WA Police Force in March 2015 from the position of Prosecutor at Joondalup.
“Life was never meant to be easy. I battled, I fought, I survived and am a better person for it all. To all those women now in the job, I am proud to say that I helped pave the way for today’s better time.”
Vicki Wray-Watts is still actively participating in the community as a surf life saver which she has done for the last 20 years.