Metropolitan Police Service

From Academic Kids

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) (usually just referred to as the Metropolitan Police, its former official name, or the Met) is the territorial police force in Greater London, England, with the exception of the square mile of the City of London, which has its own police force, the City of London Police.

The Metropolitan Police's headquarters are at New Scotland Yard in Westminster, commonly known as Scotland Yard. Along with the Met and the City of London Police, Greater London is also policed by the British Transport Police (who are responsible for policing on the rail systems, London Underground, Tramlink and Docklands Light Railway), the Royal Parks Constabulary (who patrol a number of London's major parks), and several borough park police forces.

The head of the Metropolitan Police Service is the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (usually just referred to as the Commissioner). The post was first held jointly to Colonel Sir Charles Rowan and Sir Richard Mayne, and is currently held by Sir Ian Blair.

Metropolitan Police Car
Metropolitan Police Car

Area covered

The Met covers an area known as the Metropolitan Police District (MPD), which today is coterminous with Greater London, excluding the City.

Before April 1, 2000, the MPD covered a larger area, established well before the current borders of Greater London were set. This larger area covered parts of Surrey, Hertfordshire and Essex, specifically all of Epsom and Ewell, Hertsmere and Spelthorne districts, along with parts of the districts of Broxbourne, Elmbridge, Epping Forest, Reigate and Banstead, and Welwyn Hatfield.


The service was established on September 29, 1829, by the then Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel, giving rise to the nicknames of "Peelers" or "Bobbies" for members of the force. The Metropolitan Police was the first official non-paramilitary police force in the world.

Until the middle of the 18th century there was no police force operating in London. General law and order was maintained by magistrates, volunteer constables, watchmen and where necessary the armed forces. If a victim of crime wished to pursue an offender they could employ a "thief taker" who earned a living from such payments and, in the case of notorious offenders, the rewards offered by the courts. The novelist Henry Fielding, was appointed a magistrate in Westminster in 1748. His house at No. 4 Bow Street had been established as a courtroom in 1739 by the previous owner Sir Thomas de Veil. Fielding brought together eight trustworthy constables, who came to be known as the Bow Street Runners, and gave them the authority to enforce the decisions of magistrates. Fielding's blind half-brother Sir John Fielding (known as the "Blind Beak of Bow Street") succeeded his brother as magistrate in 1754 and refined the patrol into the first truly effective police force for the capital, although the Runners were still essentially magistrate's officers and not patrolling police officers.

By 1792 salaried constables were being paid by local magistrates, and 1798 saw the establishment of the Marine Police, a private body based in Wapping and organised primarily to police the docks and prevent the theft of cargo. This force later amalgamated with the Met to form its Thames Division, which still exists to patrol the river.

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Red Metropolitan Police Diplomatic Protection Group (DPG) car

During the early 19th century, the Industrial Revolution saw London becoming a much larger city. It became clear that the system of locally maintained constabulary was ineffective in the prevention and detection of crime amongst such a large population. In 1829, the Metropolitan Police Act was passed by the House of Commons. The act placed the policing of the capital directly under the control of the Home Secretary. The initial force consisted of around 1,000 men with instructions to patrol the streets within a seven mile radius of Charing Cross in order to prevent crime and pursue offenders.

The force continued to be controlled directly by the Home Secretary until 2000, when the newly created Greater London Authority was given responsibillity for the force, by means of a Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA). The MPA is made up of members appointed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly, and several independent members. However the Metropolitan Police Commissioner is still appointed by the Home Secretary.

In the same year, the boundaries of the MPD were altered to conform exacly with those of Greater London.

Police ranks

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The Standard of the Metropolitan Police

The prefix 'Woman' in front of female officers' ranks - as in Woman Police Constable (WPC) and Woman Police Sergeant (WPS) - is now obsolete. Members of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) up to and including the rank of chief superintendent prefix their ranks with 'Detective'. Other departments, such as Special Branch and Child Protection, award non-detectives 'Branch Detective' status, allowing them to use the 'detective' prefix.

Police numbers

The numbers of officers in the Met:

2005 - approximately 30,200
2003 - approximately 29,000
2001 - approximately 25,000 (London population 7,172,000)
1984 - approximately 27,000

See also

External link


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