Timeline: Events occurring over the course of one year in the late 70s or early 80s, depending on the answer to my questions.
Searches: Google and Ask with various combinations of First Woman Female Detective Inspector CID UK Police; Wikipedia; the Met's website; ACPO's list of women in positions of authority; the tags on this community.
I'm about to start researching for a mystery novel in which the main character is a Detective Inspector in a major force's CID (I'm currently leaning towards Birmingham, but am also considering the Met, Manchester or possibly Leeds). At the beginning of the story she is planning to leave her husband for a colleague, who is then killed during an incident they are called out to.
My character needs to get away for a while, and ends up in a tiny village (loosely based on Edensor in Derbyshire), where she finds herself investigating a decades-old mystery.
I remember seeing a few episodes of Juliet Bravo at the time, though not The Gentle Touch (ITV may have been erratic for us back then), but don't remember any influential women appearing in earlier shows (have seen most of The Sweeney at least once and a friend has equivalent memories for Softly, Softly). Much as I love Ashes To Ashes, I'm not wanting to compare my story idea with anything in that.
I plan to get Carol Bristow's 'Central 822' out of the library as soon as they can get it in for me, but other book recs are most welcome.
So my questions are:
1) when, in the ten years or so I could set my story in, would a female DI be unremarkable to the general public?
2) how would the press report the fact that this DI had been planning to leave her husband, and had now disappeared (her husband is a stoical type, who will wait a while for her to come home, before putting out any kind of appeal about her whereabouts)? How would ordinary people react to reading the story: sympathetic or judgmental?
3) at what point would the police (her own force or internal investigations) start looking for her (there's no doubt as to who killed her colleague, and plenty of other witnesses to what happened)?
Finally: there may have to be a plot device to explain why there are no repercussions when she does reappear, but a few other consequences of her unofficial investigation are going to have to be hushed up too... any comments on that are also appreciated.