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The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is the territorial police force responsible for policing within Greater Londonmarker, excluding the 'square mile' of the City of Londonmarker which is the responsibility of the City of London Police.

A number of informal names and abbreviations exist for the Metropolitan Police, such as "the Met" and "MPS". In statutes it is referred to in the lower case as the "metropolitan police force" or the "metropolitan police", without the appendage "service". The MPS is also referred to as Scotland Yard after the location of its original headquarters buildings in and around Great Scotland Yard, Whitehall. In 1890, the purpose-built Norman Shaw Buildingmarker overlooking the River Thames on the Victoria Embankment became the new headquarters and was known as New Scotland Yardmarker. However, the building was cramped so a large twin-towered office block on the corner of Victoria Street and Broadway was leased and the title, New Scotland Yard, transferred there; it remains the official headquarters to this day. Administrative functions are increasingly based at the Empress State Buildingmarker (ESB), and since late 2007 all command and control functions have been transferred to the three Metcall complexes, rather than New Scotland Yard.

In the period 2007/08, the MPS employed 31,460 police officers, 2,510 Special Constables, 14,085 police staff, and 4,247 Police Community Support Officers. This makes it the largest police force within the United Kingdommarker. The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, known commonly as Commissioner, is the overall head of the force, responsible to the Metropolitan Police Authority. The post of Commissioner was first held jointly by Sir Charles Rowan and Sir Richard Mayne. The Commissioner since 27 January 2009 is Sir Paul Stephenson, QPM who had previously been the Acting Commissioner since 1 December 2008.


Area covered and other forces

The geographical area policed by the MPS, is known as the Metropolitan Police District. In terms of geographic policing the MPSis divided into 32 Borough Operational Command Units which directly align with the London Boroughs, excluding the City of Londonmarker which is a separate police area and the responsibility of the City of London Police.

The Ministry of Defence Police are responsible for policing of Ministry of Defence property throughout the United Kingdom, including the MoD headquarters in Whitehall and other MoD establishments across the MPS district.

The British Transport Police is responsible for policing of the rail network in the United Kingdom, including London. Within London, they are also responsible for policing of the London Underground, Tramlinkmarker and the Docklands Light Railway.

The English part of the Royal Parks Constabulary, which patrolled a number of Greater London's major parks, was merged with the Metropolitan Police in 2004 and is now policed by the Royal Parks Operational Command Unit. There is also a small park police forces, the Kew Constabularymarker, responsible for the Botanic Gardensmarker) whose officers have full police powers within the park. Some London borough councils maintain their own borough park constabularies, such as the Newham Parks Constabulary in East Londonmarker; their remit only extends to park by-laws, and although they are sworn as constables under laws applicable to parks, their powers are not equal to those of constables appointed under the Police Acts, meaning that they are not police officers.

It should be noted that despite these specialist police forces the Metropolitan Police is statutorily responsible for law and order throughout the Metropolitan Police District and can take on primacy of any incident or investigation within the MPD.

Metropolitan Police Officers have legal jurisdiction throughout all of England and Wales, as do all police officers of territorial police forces and limited powers in Scotland and Northern Ireland, including areas which have their own special police forces, such as the Ministry of Defence. Within the Metropolitan Police District, the Metropolitan Police will take over the investigation of any serious crime from the British Transport Police and Ministry of Defence Police if it is deemed appropriate. Terrorist incidents and complex murder enquiries will always be investigated by the Metropolitan Police, with the assistance of the relevant specialist force, even if they are committed on railway or Ministry of Defence property. (A minor oddity to the normal jurisdiction of territorial police officers in England & Wales is that Metropolitan Police Officers involved in protection duties of Royal family and other VIPs have full police powers in Scotland and Northern Ireland in connection with those duties.)


Police ranks

The Metropolitan Police uses the standard UK police ranks, indicated by shoulder boards, up to Chief Superintendent, but it has five ranks above that level instead of the standard three.

The Metropolian Police approved the use of name badges in October 2003, with new recruits wearing the Velcro badges from September 2004. The badge consists of the wearer's rank, followed by their surname.

Following controversy over alleged assaults by uniformed officers with concealed shoulder identification numbers during the G20 summit, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson stated that "The public has a right to be able to identify any uniformed officer whilst performing their duty" by their shoulder identification numbers.

The Metropolitan Police also has several active Volunteer Police Cadet units, which maintain their own internal rank structure. The Metropolitan Special Constabulary is a contingent of part-time volunteer police officers and is attached to most Borough Operational Command Units. The MSC has its own internal rank structure.

Newly employed PCs in the MPS are paid a starting salary of £28,605 (including London weighting), rising to £31,176 after the initial training and probationary period as of 1 September 2008. This continues to rise, with the amount of time the officer has served, rising to a ceiling level of £39,373 after ten years.

The prefix 'Woman' in front of female officers' ranks has been obsolete since 1999. 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. Detective ranks are abbreviated as DC, DS, DI, etc, and are equivalent in rank to their uniform counterparts.

Police numbers

MPS constables policing an event at Trafalgar Square
MPS officers protecting World Cup revellers in London, 2006

MPS employees consist of uniformed police officers, Police Community Support Officers, Special Constables, civilian staff and Police Community Support Officers. The MPS was the first force to introduce these.

Uniformed traffic wardens, who wear a uniform with yellow and black markings, are a distinct body from local authority civil enforcement officers. The former have greater powers that include being able to stop vehicles and redirect traffic at an incident.

Total numbers 2009

Historic numbers

  • 2009 35,804 (June 09: full time equiv. strength including Special Constables)
  • 2004 31,000 (approx)
  • 2003 28,000 (approx)
  • 2001 25,000 (approx)
  • 1984 27,000 (approx)
  • 1965 18,016
  • 1952 16,400
  • 1912 20,529

Cost of the service

Annual expenditure for single years, selected by quarter centuries.
  • 1829/30 £194,126
  • 1848 £437,441
  • 1873 £1,118,785
  • 1898 £1,812,735
  • 1923 £7,838,251
  • 1948 £12,601,263
  • 1973 £95,000,000
  • 1998/9 £2,033,000,000

Crime figures

Crimes reported within the Metropolitan Police District, selected by quarter centuries.
  • 1829/30 20,000
  • 1848 15,000
  • 1873 20,000
  • 1898 18,838
  • 1923 15,383
  • 1948 126,597
  • 1973 355,258
  • 1998/9 934,254

Past Commissioners

See Commissioners of Police of the Metropolis, from the MPS's inception in 1829, to 2009.

Police stations

In addition to the Headquarters at New Scotland Yard, there are 140 police stations in London. These range from large borough headquarters staffed around the clock every day to smaller stations which may be open to the public only during normal business hours, or on certain days of the week.

The oldest police station, which opened in Bow Streetmarker in 1881, closed in 1992 and the adjoining Bow Street Magistrates Court heard its last case on 14 July 2006. The oldest operational police station is in Wappingmarker, and opened in 1908. It is the headquarters of the Marine Support Unit (formerly known as Thames Division), which is responsible for policing the River Thames. It also houses a mortuary and the River Police Museum.

The Metropolitan Police station in Paddington Greenmarker has received much publicity for its housing of terrorism suspects in an underground complex.

Most police stations can easily be identified from one or more blue lamps located outside the entrance, which were introduced in 1861.

Metropolitan police stations may have:

In 2004 there was a call from the Institute for Public Policy Research for more imaginative planning of police stations to aid in improving relations between police forces and the wider community.

Notable incidents and investigations

Notable major incidents and investigations in which the Metropolitan Police Service has been involved:
  • 1888-91 - Whitechapel Murders - Suspected to have been carried out by Jack the Ripper who killed 5 prostitutes, with another 6 being suspected but unconfirmed. In the same period a dismembered corpse was found in the construction site of Scotland Yard which was believed to have been perpetrated by Jack the Ripper, known as The Whitehall Mystery. No suspect was ever charged with the murders, and to this day the exact identity of the killer remains unknown, with the crime unsolved.
  • 2 January 1911 - Siege of Sidney Streetmarker - Involved members of a Latvianmarker gang taking a couple hostage after an unsuccessful attempt to rob a jeweller's, Home Secretary Winston Churchill later arrived to take charge of the siege, and authorised a detachment of Scots Guards to assist police from the Tower of Londonmarker.
  • 1970-1990s - IRA bombing campaign - Throughout the last quarter of the 20th century, several bombings were carried out by the Provisional Irish Republican Army. The bombings which the PIRA carried out within the Metropolitan Police District, and those planted in central London can be found here.
  • 28 February 1975 - Moorgate Tube Train Crashmarker - A London Underground train failed to stop and crashed into the buffers at the end of a tunnel, recorded as the largest loss of life in peacetime on the Tube, over 42 people killed.
  • 30 August 1976 - Notting Hill Carnival Riotmarker - After MPS officers attempted to arrest a "pickpocket", a riot ensued leading to over 100 officers being admitted to hospital.
  • 6 - 12 December 1975 - Balcombe Street Siegemarker - Occurred when PIRA members took a couple hostage in their home, while on the run from police.
  • 18 September 1975 - Spaghetti House Siege - The Spaghetti House Siege occurred when members of the "Black Liberation Front" attempted to commit an armed robbery at Spaghetti House Restaurant to gain publicity for their cause. However, the robbery was discovered by police, and the would-be robbers initiated a siege by taking hostages.
  • 1978-1983 - Muswell Hill Murders - Mass murderer Dennis Nilsen murdered at least 15 men over a period of five years, disposing of the body parts by burning or in drains, he was also found to have many remains in his home at Muswell Hillmarker when police apprehended him.
  • Blair Peach April 1979 - Peach was fatally injured in April 1979 during a demonstration in Southall by the Anti-Nazi League against a National Front election meeting taking place in the town hall. He was knocked unconscious and died the next day in hospital. Police brutality was never proven to be a contributory factor in his death, but it was claimed that he had fallen to a blow from a rubberised police radio belonging to the Metropolitan Police's Special Patrol Group.
  • 1980 Iranian Embassy Siegemarker - The Iranian Embassy Siege involved members of a terrorist group calling themselves the "Democratic Revolutionary Movement for the Liberation of Arabistan (DRMLA)" took the embassy staff hostage, the Metropolitan Police were heavily involved in the hostage negotiation, but after six days, negotiations were terminated, preceded by an assault by the British Army's Special Air Servicemarker.
  • April 11, 1981 - Brixton Riotmarker - During the early 1980s the Metropolitan Police began "Operation Swamp" which was implemented to cut street crime by the use of the Stop Under Suspicion which legally allowed officers to stop people on the suspicion of wrong doing. Tensions rose within the black community after a black youth was stabbed, leading to severe rioting.
  • 1982-86 Railway Rapists - John Duffy and David Mulcahy committed 18 rapes of women and young girls near railway stations in London and the South East, murdering three of their victims. Metropolitan Police officers worked with neighbouring forces to solve the crimes. Duffy was convicted in 1988, but Mulcahy was not brought to justice until almost 10 years later.
  • 28 September 1985 - Brixton Riot - Rioting erupted in Brixtonmarker, sparked by the shooting of Dorothy 'Cherry' Groce by police seeking her son Michael Groce in relation to a suspected firearms offence believed to be hiding in his mother's home. He was not there at the time, and Groce was part-paralysed by the bullet.
  • 6 October 1985 - Broadwater Farm Riot - A week after the Brixton riot of 28 September 1985, while tensions among the black community were still high, riots broke out in Tottenhammarker after the mother of a black man whose house was being searched died of a heart attack during the operation. In the course of the riot, PC Keith Blakelock was murdered.
  • 1986 - Stockwell Strangler - Kenneth Erskine carried out a series of attacks in Stockwellmarker on elderly men and women, breaking into their homes and strangling them to death. Most were sexually assaulted.
  • 18 November 1987 - King's Cross Firemarker - Fire broke out under a wooden escalator leading from one of the underground station platforms to the surface. The blaze and resulting smoke claimed 31 lives, including that of a senior firefighter.
  • 12 December 1988 - Clapham Train Crashmarker - A packed commuter train passed a defective signal and ran into the back of a second train, derailing it into the path of a third coming the other way. The crash killed 35 people and seriously injured 69 others.
  • 20 August 1989 - Sinking of the Marchionessmarker - Pleasure boat the Marchioness was struck by the dredger Bowbelle, killing 30 people.
  • 31 March 1990 - Trafalgar Square Riot - Also known as the Poll Tax Riot, this was triggered by growing unrest against the Community Charge, and grew from a legitimate demonstration which had taken place that morning. An estimated £400,000-worth of damage was caused.
  • 8 January 1991 - Cannon Street Train Crashmarker - Two people were killed and over 500 injured.
  • 1993 - "Gay Slayer" - Former soldier Colin Ireland murdered five homosexual men in a deliberate bid to get notoriety - he had read an article that said to be a serial killer you must have killed five times or more.
  • 1993 - Stephen Lawrence and the MacPherson Inquiry - A series of operations failed to convict the killers of schoolboy Stephen Lawrence, despite substantial evidence. The resulting MacPherson inquiry found that the Metropolitan Police was 'institutionally racist'.
  • December 1995 - Brixton Riot - A large gathering protested outside Brixton Police Station over the death of a local man in police custody, leading to a riot. Three police officers were injured with a two mile exclusion zone set-up around Brixton, later reports showed that the male in custody died of heart failure, said to be brought on because of difficulties restraining him.
  • April 1999 - London Nailbomber - Lone bomber David Copeland carried out a series of hate attacks on ethnic minority areas and on a pub frequented by the homosexual community.
  • 18 June 1999 - Anti-capitalist Riot - Previously peaceful anti-capitalist demonstrations ended with disorder in The Citymarker, which caused widespread damage, particularly to businesses in the financial district identified with global capitalism.
  • 1 May 2001 - May Day protest - In an attempt to control crowds, the police employed the tactic of "kettling", and were criticised for detaining innocent bystanders for long perdiods of time.
  • 21 September 2001 - Thames murder case - A dismembered body of a young boy believed to have been between the ages of four and seven was spotted floating in the River Thames, named by police as Adam in the absence of a confirmed name. During the investigation a Commander and a Detective Chief Inspector met with Nelson Mandela. The case was never solved.
  • 2004 Pro-hunting protests - demonstrators protesting against the Hunting Act 2004 outside the UK Parliament were involved in violent confrontations with the Metropolitan Police.
  • 7 July 2005 - London Bombings - Multiple bombings across London, in which MPS officers worked to a Major Incident Plan to provide coordination, control and forensic and investigative resources.
  • 21 July 2005 - Attempted London Bombingsmarker - Multiple attempted bombings across London, in which MPS officers worked to a similar plan to that used two weeks previously. In the aftermath of these events, Jean Charles de Menezes was mistakenly targeted as a potential terrorist and shot dead in a deployment of Operation Kratos.
A Fast Response Targa 31 boat of the Marine Support Unit of the MPS, on the River Thames in London
  • 2006 - TransAtlantic Aircraft Bomb Plots - The Metropolitan Police continue to investigate alleged aircraft bombing plots and other related terrorist activities by militant Islamists.
  • 13 September 2006 - Operation Mokpo - Officers from Operation Trident make the MPS's largest seizure of firearms after a series of raids in Dartfordmarker, Kentmarker. A senior officer was quoted as saying: "This operation has resulted in hundreds of guns being taken out of circulation."
  • 10 October 2006 - Operation Minstead - Detectives from the Specialist Crime Directorate issued an appeal for the subject of the UKmarker's most extensive rape investigation to surrender himself to police.
  • 29 June 2007 - London car bombs - Attempted car bombings in Central London, the devices remained undetonated because of an LAS paramedic alerting police. MPS officers were involved in the investigation, and the setting up of an exclusion zone around the area.
  • Autumn 2008 - National Black Police Association Boycott - declared against the police force on the grounds of racial discrimination within the police. This followed high profile controversies involving high ranking black officers, including allegations of racism made by Tarique Ghaffur - the highest ranking Asian officer - against Commissioner Ian Blair who resigned soon after.
  • 2009 G-20 London summit protests - the police once more used the "kettling" technique to contain large numbers of demonstrators during the G-20 protests. The tactic was criticised for its indiscriminate detention of demonstrators. Ian Tomlinson, a bystander to the protests, died after being pushed to the ground by a police officer. A sergeant in the Territorial Support Group has been suspended after being filmed striking a woman across the face. The tactics used in the policing of mass protests are now under review following these incidents.

Notable convictions

Notable major trials in which the Metropolitan Police Service has been convicted:

Jean Charles de Menezes death

Jean Charles de Menezes (7 January 1978 – 22 July 2005) was a Brazilian national shot dead by police at Stockwell tube station in London, England. He was shot in the head at close range by Metropolitan Police. The Met faced criminal charges under sections 3(1) and 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 for "failing to provide for the health, safety and welfare of Jean Charles de Menezes". It entered a not guilty plea to the charges, "after the most careful consideration". The trial started on 1 October 2007.

On 1 November 2007 The Metropolitan Police were found guilty of the above offences, and were fined £175,000, with £385,000 legal costs.The Met published a terse release about this decision,and Len Duvall, Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority, asked that the full report on the investigation be published.

See also


  1. Sir Ronald Howe (1965) The Rise of Scotland Yard
  2. Douglas Browne (1956) The Rise of Scotland Yard: A History of the Metropolitan Police
  3. Martin Fido and Keith Skinner (1999) The Official Encyclopedia of Scotland Yard
  5. Metropolitan Police PCSO
  6. GLA press release, 11 March 2003
  7. Hansard, 23 April 2001. London population at the time was 7,172,000.
  8. Hansard, 26 February 1996
  9. The Thin Blue Line, Police Council for Great Britain Staff Side Claim for Undermanning Supplements, 1965
  10. Report of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis for the Year 1952. Included 35 Chief Superintendents (including one woman), 12 Detective Chief Superintendents, 62 Superintendents (including one woman), 16 Detective Superintendents, 128 Chief Inspectors (including five women), 64 Detective Chief Inspectors (including one woman), 20 Station Inspectors, 465 Inspectors (including four women), 140 Detective Inspectors (including one woman), 441 Station Sergeants, 202 1st Class Detective Sergeants, 1,834 Sergeants (including 32 women), 414 2nd Class Detective Sergeants (including six women), 11,951 Constables (including 310 women), and 615 Detective Constables (including 27 women). The official establishment was 20,045.
  11. Raymond B. Fosdick, European Police Systems, 1915. Figures at 31 December 1912, including 33 Superintendents, 607 Chief Inspectors and Inspectors, 2,747 Sergeants and 17,142 Constables.
  12. Institute for Public Policy Research: Re-inventing the police station (PDF)
  13. Serial Killers: Kenneth Erskine
  14. The Job: Life sentence for London nailbomber
  15. BBC News. Police guilty over Menezes case. Last updated 1 November 2007. Retrieved 22 January 2008.
  16. Metropolitan Police. Health and Safety trial result 1 November 2007. Retrieved 22 January 2008.
  17. Metropolitan Police. MPA and ACPO on Health and Safety verdict. 1 November 2007. Retrieved 22 January 2008.

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