PIONEER: Senior Constable Claire Heptinstall is the first permanent female police officer at Toogoolawah Police Station in its 109-year history.
PIONEER: Senior Constable Claire Heptinstall is the first permanent female police officer at Toogoolawah Police Station in its 109-year history. Francis Witsenhuysen

Claire Heptinstall changes Toogoolawah police history

THERE'S a new officer on the block in Toogoolawah who has changed police history.

Senior Constable Claire Heptinstall is the first permanent female police officer to start at Toogoolawah Police Station in its 109-year history.

Toogoolawah Police Station opened on September 17, 1908, though it wasn't until 1931 the Queensland Police Force allowed women to join - and it wasn't until 1970 that women were paid equally.

Formally from Toowoomba, Snr Const Heptinstall, 30, didn't know she was a trailblazer in police history when she took on the job.

"I found out women have relieved here in the past but that's it,” she said.

"I don't think the service has ever stopped a woman from working here - I know they are pushing for 50/50 male to female ratio in the force.

"I just happened to be the best candidate when the job was advertised this time.”

Snr Const Heptinstall said it was an incredible moment in history when women were allowed to be front-line police officers.

"When women first joined the police their roles were to communicate with wives and children,” she said.

"So when we were actually considered equal - that was a good day. I believe there is a massive role for women in the police force.”

Joining QPS at age 24, Snr Const Heptinstall was stationed in Toowoomba for her entire service.

"I've never had any problems being a woman as a police officer - but I'm a strong woman,” she said.

"It's a fantastic career but it's not suited for every woman or man - it's not something you should consider lightly - but it has fantastic rewards and I couldn't imagine doing anything else now.”

Snr Const Heptinstall is looking forward to getting to know the Toogoolawah community in her new role.

The community have been welcoming, I've had a few people say things like 'oh good we've got a female officer' it's like joining a family.

Snr Const Heptinstall's first week on the job proved extremely challenging as an emergency situation in Toogoolawah unfolded last Friday, resulting in a man being taken into custody.


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