Joan Lock

Joan Lock Biography

Born to Matthew and Ena Greenslade in New Malden, Surrey. At the outbreak of war, family fled to father’s birthplace, Barrow-in-Furness, on the supposition that the German bombers could not reach that far. They did and found us entirely surrounded by shipyards. Fled to idyllic cottage in the Lake District then on father’s call-up to mother’s home city, Newcastle-on-Tyne. Bombers followed.

Joan
Joan and brother Eric
Joan as an evacuee
Joan
Joan and brother Eric. He had been chopping at her hair - you can see the tufts on the back of her head. Eric later became a chief superintendant in the Cumbria Constabulary
As an evacuee

Due to disrupted education (10 schools) failed to achieve any qualifications, which scotched my journalistic aspirations. Instead, took job as shop assistant then went into nursing training at a time when they were judged too saintly to require a decent wage or conditions.


Nursing Days
Nursing days. Joan is on the left end of the second row
At the right is Audrey who later became her sister-in-law

Bob Lock on duuty


Joan's husband, Bob Lock, on duty

Qualified as a State Registered Nurse but went south to join The Metropolitan Police. Posted to West End Central, which covered Mayfair and Soho. Met and married fellow police officer Bob Lock. Served six years in the police, but, despite the glamour of film premières and ceremonial occasions and the compliment of being asked to pose as a prostitute, became bored by the limits of the job for women at that time.

As a policewoman
Bob Lock
Joan, in a photograph from the back cover of Scotland Yard Casebook
As a policewoman
Silhouette is Bob's
Bob Lock
Joan, in a photograph from the back cover of Scotland Yard Casebook , taken by Bob on Joan's last day

Went on to work as an office bureau interviewer, then airline clerk, which offered marvellous travel opportunities. Still wanted to write and, since people kept asking me what it was like to be a policewoman, produced my first book, the autobiographical Lady Policeman (Michael Joseph, 1968). This attracted (I later realised) quite a lot of attention including television appearances and magazine serialisation. Reluctant Nightingale (Dent, 1970) followed - then a desperate search for what to write next.

Joa being interviewed on TV by Michael Aspel
front cover: Reluctant Nightingale
Being interviewed on TV by Michael Aspel
front cover: Reluctant Nightingale


For some strange reason, which I cannot now recollect, I began researching into women’s struggle to join the police service. At the time, I was blithely unaware of the difficulties I would encounter, due to my lack of experience and the fact that I was first in the field. This latter point provided me with some kudos, but it was very hard work!

Three befuddled years later I lifted my head for the publication of The British Policewoman: Her Story (Hale). That was in 1978 and the book has remained a presence in my life ever since. If bibliographical listings, source acknowledgements and research queries were gold dust I’d be Mrs Midas.

The British Police Woman: Her Story
back cover: The British Policewoman: Her Story
The British Police Woman: Her Story
back cover: The British Policewoman: Her Story
Photo: Bob Lock


Various police/crime non-fiction books followed:

Scotland Yard's First Case cover
Scotland Yard Casebook: The Making of the CID 1865-1935
Marlborough Street: The Story of a London Court (Hale, 1980)
Scotland Yard's First Cases
(Hale 2011)
Tales from Bow Street
Blue Murder? Policemen Under Suspicion
Dreadful Deeds and Awful Murders: Scotland Yard's First Detectives 1829-1878


Also radio plays for the BBC and Australian Broadcasting Corporation and a couple of radio documentaries, one on the Crime Writers’ Association and the other on present day police women.

Police Review, January 1987

Police Review, January 1987

During the 1980s I began writing regularly for the leading police magazine, Police Review, on matters pertaining to the female public (endearingly, they referred to me as their rape correspondent) and women police. The latter were having a hard time because the Police Federation was trying to have the service exempted from the requirements of the Sexual Equality Act of 1976. One of these women police features, enquiring when we were going to get a woman chief constable, resulted (claimed Assistant Chief Constable Alison Halford who responded to it) in her endless high profile case in which sex discrimination accusations and counter accusations were hurled about. I would like to think that the case hastened the acceptance of the next woman applicant soon after. (Forces were now running scared in their handling of woman applicants). Many women have since been appointed to the post of Chief Constable.

Another of my articles led to the formation of the British Association for Women in Policing who celebrated their 20th anniversary at the House of Lords in November 2007.

Grapevine magazine front cover

BAWP founder members Tina Martin, Carolyn Williamson
and Joan Lock on the House of Lords Terrace

Joan and friends outside the house of lords

Founder members with BAWP supporter, Baroness Harris of Richmond (centre front) and (centre back) BAWP President Julie Spence,  Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire Police.

Upon retirement from my twenty years as a part-time in-house journalist for the John Lewis Partnership, I decided it was time to try my hand at crime fiction. With my knowledge of the Victorian period, I plumped for a historical police procedural, Dead Image (Hale, 2000), which was based around a real-life event, the Regent’s Park explosion of 1874, and which introduced Detective Sergeant Ernest Best.

Dead Image

Dead Image

More historical mysteries, featuring Detective Sergeant Ernest Best, plus one modern police procedural followed:

Dead Born (Hale, 2002)
Dead Letters
Death In Perspective (Hale, 2001)
Dead Born
(Hale, 2002)
Dead Letters
(Severn House, 2003)
       
Dead End
Dead Fall
Dead Loss
Dead End
(Severn House, 2004)
Dead Fall
(Severn House, 2005)
Dead Loss
(Severn House, 2006)
     
Dead Centre
Dead Image cover Dead Born
Dead Centre
(Hale 2008)
Dead Image
(The Mystery Press, 2012)
Dead Born
(The Mystery Press, 2013)

 

Finally, two more non-fiction books followed:

Please Nurse The Princess Alice Disaster
Please, Nurse!
(Orion, 2013)
The Princess Alice Disaster
(Hale, 2013)

 

TV Programmes based on Joan's work:

A Fair Cop

A Fair Cop, BBC/IfNotUs 2015

 

 

 

Joan Lock