A POLICE force had to defend itself after being accused of going “back to the dark ages” amid a sexism row - but managed to make things worse.

Edinburgh Police Division posted an image regarding equal opportunities on its Facebook page yesterday of three female officers, captioning it: “THESE LADIES ARE MORE THAN JUST PRETTY FACES!”

The post added: “From SPC to Superintendent, there are opportunities for everyone in the police. Don’t sit and wonder what it would be like, come and join us - WE ARE RECRUITING!!”

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However, the mood quickly turned sour as dozens of users of the site lambasted the division for its choice of words, with one commenting: “It’s 1972 again.”

“I am sure these fine women are doing a great job - but commenting on their facial appearance? In this day and age? Not PC is it?” said one woman.

One user said: “Come on that’s more than just a bit condescending Police Scotland! You really should know better...even though I’m sure no offence was meant. 2017 not 1917.”

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“Commenting on appearance. Back to the dark ages. Ridiculous get it sorted!” was another, as another hit out, “I’m guessing that it isn’t a woman in charge of this social media account.

However, in what should have been a straightforward apology, somehow, the division managed to steer things even further south.

The group responded: “No offence intended folks. I was merely making reference to the fact these women (and men) work very hard and we are appreciative of all they do in their respective jobs - whether that’s as a volunteer for police scotland or one of the commanders for the division.

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“This was in fact written by a 31 year old female, who like many others initially noticed their beaming smiles and pretty faces.

“But as an officer myself, I know the job they do well and would encourage any of you men, women, ‘pretty’ or ‘ugly’ to step up and see if you have what it takes!!”

“Jeezo. This is worse than the first. Instead of trying to be stand-up comedians why not keep the narrative strictly informative and professional?” hit back one displeased user of the site.

“I’m not offended... I’m embarrassed at your lack of professionalism and ignorance at how this represents your employer,” said another.

The division has not yet responded to its earlier response.