Metropolitan Police Service

"Metropolitan Police" redirects here. For police of major metropolitan areas, see metropolitan police.
Metropolitan Police Service
Metropolitan Police Force
Common name The Met[1]
Abbreviation MPS[2]
Motto Total Policing[1]
Agency overview
Formed 29 September 1829[3]
Preceding agencies
Employees 48,661 (total)[6]
31,400 police officers[6]
13,000 police staff
2,600 PCSOs[7]
Volunteers 5,000 special constables
1,500 Met Police volunteers
approx 4,000 volunteer police cadets
Annual budget £3.5 billion[8]
Legal personality Non government: Police force
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* Police area of Metropolitan Police District in the country of , UK
Map of police area
Size 1,578 km2 (609 sq mi)
Population 7.2 million[9]
Legal jurisdiction England & Wales (Northern Ireland and Scotland in limited circumstances)
Governing body Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime
Constituting instruments
General nature
Operational structure
Overviewed by Independent Police Complaints Commission/Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary
Headquarters New Scotland Yard
Police officers 32,125 full time[6]
5,479 special constables[6]
PCSOs 3,831[6]
Deputy Mayor responsible Sophie Linden
Agency executives
Stations 180
Boats 22
Helicopters 3
Dogs 250
* Police area agency: Prescribed geographic area in the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.
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The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), formerly and still commonly the Metropolitan Police, and informally referred to as the Met, is the territorial police force responsible for law enforcement in Greater London, excluding the "square mile" of the City of London, which is the responsibility of the City of London Police.[10] The Met also has significant national responsibilities, such as co-ordinating and leading on counter-terrorism matters and protection of the British Royal Family and senior figures of Her Majesty's Government.[11]

As of October 2011, the Met employed 48,661 full-time personnel. This included 31,478 sworn police officers, 13,350 non-police staff, and 3,831 non-sworn police community support officers. This number excludes the 5,479 Special Constables, who work part-time (a minimum of 16 hours a month) and who have the same powers and uniform as their regular colleagues.[6] This makes the Metropolitan Police the largest police force in the United Kingdom by a significant margin, and one of the biggest in the world.[12]

The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, commonly known simply as the Commissioner, is the overall operational leader of the force, responsible and accountable to the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime. The post of Commissioner was first held jointly by Sir Charles Rowan and Sir Richard Mayne. The post is currently occupied by Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe. The Commissioner's subordinate, the Deputy Commissioner, is currently Craig Mackey.

A number of informal names and abbreviations exists for the Metropolitan Police Service, the most common being the Met. In colloquial London (or Cockney slang), it is sometimes referred to as the Old Bill.[13] The Met is also referred to by the metonym Scotland Yard after the location of its original headquarters in a road called Great Scotland Yard in Whitehall.[14] The Met's current headquarters is New Scotland Yard, in Victoria.


The Metropolitan Police Service, whose officers became affectionately known as "bobbies", was founded in 1829 by Robert Peel under the Metropolitan Police Act 1829, and, at that time, merged with the River Thames Marine Police Force, which had been formed in 1798. In 1837, it also incorporated with the Bow Street Horse Patrol that had been organised in 1805.[15]


Since January 2012, the Mayor of London is responsible for the governance of the Metropolitan Police through the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC). The mayor is able to appoint someone to act on his behalf; the current office-holder is Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden. The work of MOPAC is scrutinised by the Police and Crime Committee (also known as a police and crime panel) of the London Assembly. These structures were created by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 and replaced the Metropolitan Police Authority appointed board created in 2000 by Greater London Authority Act 1999.

Police area and other forces

Carved whale bone whistle dated 1821. 8 cm long. Belonged to a 'Peeler' in the Metropolitan Police Service in London in the early 19th century.

The area policed by the Metropolitan Police Service is known as the Metropolitan Police District (MPD). In terms of geographic policing, the Met is divided into a number of Borough Operational Command Units, which directly align with the 32 London boroughs covered. The City of London (which is not a London borough) is a separate police area and is the responsibility of the separate City of London Police.

The Ministry of Defence Police are responsible for policing of Ministry of Defence property throughout the United Kingdom, including its headquarters in Whitehall and other MoD establishments across the MPD.[16]

The British Transport Police are responsible for policing of the rail network in the United Kingdom, including London. Within London, they are also responsible for the policing of the London Underground, Tramlink, The Emirates Air Line (cable car) and the Docklands Light Railway.[17]

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 those parks are now policed by the Royal Parks Operational Command Unit.[18] There is also a small park police force, the Kew Constabulary, responsible for the Royal Botanic Gardens, whose officers have full police powers within the park. A few London borough councils maintain their own borough park constabularies, though 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.[19]

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

Metropolitan Police officers have legal jurisdiction throughout all of England and Wales, including areas that have their own special police forces, such as the Ministry of Defence, as do all police officers of territorial police forces. Officers also have limited powers in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Within the MPD, the Met 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 almost always be investigated by the Met, with the assistance of any 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 and Wales is that Met officers involved in the protection duties of the Royal Family and other VIPs have full police powers in Scotland and Northern Ireland in connection with those duties.

Organisation and structure

The Metropolitan Police Service is organised into the following directorates:

Each is overseen by an Assistant Commissioner, or in the case of administrative departments, a director of police staff, which is the equivalent civilian staff grade. The management board is made up of the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioners and Directors.

In June 2015, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, said there was some justification in claims that the Metropolitan Police Service is institutionally racist.[20]


The Metropolitan Police Service uses the standard British police ranks, indicated by shoulder boards, up to Chief Superintendent, but uniquely has five ranks above that level instead of the standard three; namely Commander, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner and Commissioner.[21] All senior officers above the rank of Commander are chief police officers of ACPO rank.

The Met 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.[22]

Following controversy over assaults by uniformed officers with concealed shoulder identification numbers[23] during the G20 summit, Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said, "the public has a right to be able to identify any uniformed officer whilst performing their duty" by their shoulder identification numbers.[24]

The Met uniformed officer rank structure, with shoulder badge features, is as follows:

The Met also has several active Volunteer Police Cadet units, which maintain their own internal rank structure.[25] The Metropolitan Special Constabulary (MSC) 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.

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". Detective ranks are equivalent in rank to their uniform counterparts. But at a scene of a crime, the highest ranked present detective becomes temporary (or sometimes permanent) Senior Investigating Officer (or S.I.O.) even if a high ranked Police Officer in uniform (below the rank of Commander) also is present. Other departments, such as Special Branch and Child Protection, award non-detectives "Branch Detective" status, allowing them to use the "Detective" prefix. None of these detective ranks confer on the holder any extra pay or supervisory authority compared to their uniformed colleagues.


Two Metropolitan Police officers overseeing an event at Trafalgar Square.
Met officers supervising World Cup revellers in 2006.
Armed DPG police officers. Downing Street gates, 2014
A Met area car.
A Met smart car

The Metropolitan Police Service consists of warranted regular police officers and special constables (police officers are not employees), and employed civilian staff and police community support officers.[26] The Met was the first force to introduce PCSOs.

Uniformed traffic wardens, who wear a uniform with yellow and black markings, are a distinct body from local council civil enforcement officers. The former have greater powers that include being able to stop vehicles and redirect traffic at an incident.[27] In the past some Met officers have also worn Blue uniforms.

Police numbers

Historic numbers of police officers


The Met operates and maintains a fleet of more than 8,000 vehicles,[46] which are used for a range of duties, including:[47]

The majority of vehicles have a service life of three to five years; the Met replaces or upgrades between 800 and 1,000 vehicles each year. As of 2012, the Met has transitioned all new vehicles into the Battenburg markings, which is a highly-reflective material on the side of the vehicles, chequered blue and yellow (symbol of police). The old livery was an orange stripe through the vehicle, with the forces logo. However, these livery's are becoming hard to find, as all new vehicles are being fitted with Battenburg.

A London-based element of the National Police Air Service operates three Eurocopter EC 145 helicopters, using the call signs India 97, India 98 and India 99. The helicopters are marked in police livery and used for a range of operations. They each cost £5.2 million and have a service life of ten years, meaning they will become due for replacement in 2017.

A marine policing unit operates 22 vessels from its base in Wapping.

Cost of the service

Annual expenditure for single years, selected by quarter centuries.[48]

In 2014/15, the MPS had total expenditure of £3,208m (down from £3,692m in 2011/12), of which £2,475m went on pay (down from £2,754m).[49][50]

Crime figures

See also: Crime in London

Crimes reported within the Metropolitan Police District, selected by quarter centuries.[51]

Detection rates

The following table shows the percentage detection rates for the Metropolitan Police by offence group for 2010/11.[52]

Total Violence against the person Sexual offences Robbery Burglary Offences against vehicles Other theft offences Fraud and forgery Criminal damage Drug offences Other offences
Metropolitan Police 24 35 23 17 11 5 14 16 13 91 63
England and Wales 28 44 30 21 13 11 22 24 14 94 69

Specialist Units

Air Support Unit - (ASU) Provides air support for pursuits, searches and observations during situations.[53]

Protection Command - Provides personal armed protection for the Royal family, Prime Minister and other ministers, ambassadors and visiting heads of state. Special Operation units SO1 and SO14 merged in April 2015, to form RaSP (Royalty and Specialist Protection) which provides the roles above. The Diplomatic Protection Group (DPG) is responsible for providing armed officers that guard important residences such as Downing Street, but not Buckingham Palace and other palaces, as RaSP provides this.[54]

Aviation Security - Responsible for providing armed support and policing at Heathrow Airport and London City Airport.[55]

Roads and Transport Policing Command - Provides policing for the transport network in London such as London Underground (occasionally because British Transport Police specialises in that area) and buses. The main division, the Traffic Division, patrols the roads, capable of securing Road Traffic Collisions (RTC), pursuiting fleeing suspects and enforcing speed, safety and drink driving.[56]

Specialist Firearms Command - (A.K.A SCO19, SO19 or CO19) Responsible for providing armed response across the whole of London with 3 Authorised Firearms Officers (AFO) travelling in ARVs (Armed Response Vehicles) responding to calls involving firearms and weapons, which may put a conventional officer at risk. CO19 has a division of SFOs (Specialist Firearms Officers), who would respond to any type of terrorist attack or shooting. SFOs are highly trained, heavily-armoured officers - the equivalent of America's SWAT.[57]

Dog Support Unit - (DSU) Provides highly trained dogs and police handlers. They are trained to detect drugs and firearms, respond to searches, missing people, and fleeing suspects . There is also a division which has bomb-detection dogs.[58]

Marine Policing Unit - (MPU) Provides policing on the waterways of London, responding to situations in the River Thames and tracking and stopping illegal vessels entering and exiting London.[59]

Mounted Branch - Provides policing on horseback, patrolling London. Their main duty is escorting the Royal Guard down the Mall, into and out of Buckingham Palace every morning from April to July, then occasionally through the remainder of the year. They also provide public order support and are commonly called to police football matches in the event of any unrest. All officers are trained in horseback public order tactics.[60]

Territorial Support Group - (TSG) Highly trained officers, specialised in public order and large scale riots responding around London in Public Order Vehicles (POV). They respond in highly-protective uniform during riots, protecting themselves from any thrown objects or hazards.[61]


All vehicles listed are vehicles used by the Metropolitan Police at this current time.

Incident Response Vehicles (IRV) or also known as response cars:

Area Cars (ANPR Interceptors):

Traffic Units:

Armed Response Vehicles (ARV):

Public Order Vehicles (POV):

Dog Support Units (DSU):

Prisoner Transport Units (PTU) and Officer Carriers:

Miscellaneous Vehicles:


In addition to the headquarters at New Scotland Yard, there are 140 police stations in London.[62] 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.

A traditional blue lamp as seen outside most police stations. This one is outside Charing Cross police station.

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

The oldest Metropolitan police station, which opened in Bow Street in 1881, closed in 1992 and the adjoining Bow Street Magistrates' Court heard its last case on 14 July 2006.[63] The oldest operational police station in London is in Wapping, which opened in 1908. It is the headquarters of the marine policing unit (formerly known as Thames Division), which is responsible for policing the River Thames. It also houses a mortuary and the River Police Museum.

Paddington Green Police Station is a station that has received much publicity for its housing of terrorism suspects in an underground complex.

The marine policing unit is based at Wapping.

Metropolitan Police stations may house a variety of roles and ranks of police staff, such as:

Most stations have temporary holding cells where an arrested person can be held until either being released without charge, bailed to appear at court on a later date, or remanded until escort to a court.

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.[64]

Notable incidents and investigations

Notable major incidents and investigations in which the Metropolitan Police has directed or been involved include:

The Met deployed some of their specialist riot vehicles, similar to this one pictured, to the 2009 G-20 protests.
Metropolitan Police officers overseeing the "Protest the Pope" rally on 18 September 2010.

2015 political spying revelations

In 2015, former Metropolitan Police Special Branch officer Peter Francis revealed that the service has spied on several former and serving Labour MPs including Harriet Harman, Peter Hain, Jack Straw, Diane Abbott, Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Grant, Ken Livingstone, Tony Benn, Joan Ruddock and Dennis Skinner.

In response, Peter Hain stated: "That the special branch had a file on me dating back 40 years ago to anti-apartheid and anti-Nazi League activist days is hardly revelatory. That these files were still active for at least 10 years while I was an MP certainly is and raises fundamental questions about parliamentary sovereignty."[114]

Officers killed in the line of duty

The sculpture on the grave of Constable William Frederick Tyler, Abney Park Cemetery, London

The Police Memorial Trust lists and commemorates all British police officers killed in the line of duty, and since its establishment in 1984 has erected dozens of memorials to some of those officers.

Since 1900, the following officers of the Metropolitan Police Service are listed by the Trust as having been killed while attempting to prevent, stop or solve a criminal act in progress:[115][116][117]

Rank Name Year of death Circumstances
PC Ernest Thompson 1900 Stabbed by a suspect causing a street disturbance
PC Arthur John Wilkins Healey 1902 Fell through roof while searching a premises
PC James Frederick Macey 1904 Collapsed and died after an arrest
PC Leonard Russell 1904 Collapsed and died during an arrest
Sgt Thomas William Perry 1905 Collapsed and died after an arrest
PC William Percy Croft 1905 Fatally injured in a fall while pursuing burglars
PC William Frederick Tyler 1909 Shot dead while pursuing robbery suspects
Insp Alfred Edward Deeks 1912 Collapsed and died while dispersing a nuisance crowd
DC Alfred Young, KPM 1915 Shot dead attempting an arrest
PC Herbert Berry 1918 Fatally injured during an arrest
Sgt Henry William Sawyer 1918 Fatally injured during an arrest
Sgt Thomas Green 1919 Bludgeoned during a mob attack on a police station
PC Thomas Eldred B. Rowland 1919 Died from injuries sustained during an arrest
PC James Kelly 1920 Shot dead while pursuing a burglar
PC David Fleming Ford 1929 Fell through a roof while pursuing burglars
PC Arthur Lawes 1930 Run over while attempting to stop a stolen vehicle
PC George William Allen 1931 Fatally injured with Cautherley when his vehicle crashed during a police pursuit
PC Harry Cautherley 1931 Fatally injured with Allen when his vehicle crashed during a police pursuit
PC George Thomas Shepherd 1938 Dragged by a stolen vehicle while attempting to arrest the driver
WRC Jack William Avery 1940 Stabbed while questioning a suspect
PC Nathanael Edgar 1948 Shot dead while questioning a suspect
PC Sidney George Miles 1952 Shot dead by Christopher Craig
PC Edgar Gerald Allen 1958 Fatally injured when his vehicle crashed during a police pursuit
PC Raymond Henry Summers 1958 Stabbed while intervening in a street affray
DS Raymond William Purdy 1959 Shot dead by Guenther Podola
PC Ronald Alan Addison 1960 Collapsed and died while pursuing suspects
PC Edward Roy Dorney 1960 Struck by a train while pursuing suspects
Insp Philip Pawsey, QPM 1961 Shot dead with Hutchins by a suspect
Sgt Frederick George Hutchins, QPM 1961 Shot dead with Pawsey by a suspect
DS Christopher Head 1966 Shot dead in the Massacre of Braybrook Street
PC Geoffrey Fox 1966 Shot dead in the Massacre of Braybrook Street
DC David Wombwell 1966 Shot dead in the Massacre of Braybrook Street
PC Desmond Morgan Acreman 1967 Accidentally run over while pursuing suspects
PC Douglas Frederick Beckerson 1971 Fell through a roof while pursuing a suspect
PC Michael Anthony Whiting, QPM 1973 Dragged by a vehicle while attempting to arrest the driver
Insp David George Gisborne 1974 Collapsed and died after being assaulted in a riot
CEO Roger Philip Goad, GC 1975 Killed attempting to defuse a bomb
PC Clifford Lancaster 1975 Collapsed and died while searching for suspects
PC Stephen Andrew Tibble, QPM 1975 Shot dead off-duty attempting to stop a suspect pursued by police
PC Alan Baxter 1977 Fatally injured when his vehicle crashed during a police pursuit
PC Kevin Kelliher 1979 Fatally injured when his vehicle crashed during a police pursuit
PC Francis Joseph O'Neill 1980 Stabbed while questioning a suspect
CEO Kenneth Robert Howorth, GM 1981 Killed attempting to defuse a bomb
PC Robert Benjamin Mercer 1982 Fatally injured when his vehicle crashed during a police pursuit
WPC Jane Philippa Arbuthnot 1983 Killed in the Harrods bombing
Insp Stephen John Dodd 1983 Killed in the Harrods bombing
Sgt Noel Joseph Lane 1983 Killed in the Harrods bombing
PC Stephen Paul Walker 1983 Accidentally run over while pursuing suspects
PC Grant Clifford Sunnucks 1984 Fatally injured when his vehicle crashed during a police pursuit
PC Ronald Ian Leeuw 1984 Collapsed and died while struggling with a violent prisoner
WPC Yvonne Joyce Fletcher 1984 Shot dead while policing a political demonstration
PC Stephen John Jones 1984 Run over while attempting to stop a drunk-driver
PC Keith Henry Blakelock, QGM 1985 Stabbed during the Broadwater Farm riot
DC John William Fordham 1985 Stabbed while on surveillance duty
PC Philip Michael Olds 1986 Died after being shot and left paralysed in 1980 while attempting an arrest
PC Martin Bickersteth Bell 1986 Run over during a police pursuit
PC Ronan Konrad McCloskey 1987 Dragged by a vehicle while attempting to arrest the drunk driver
PC Laurence Peter Brown 1990 Shot dead as he approached a suspect
PC Robert Chenery Gladwell 1991 Died after being assaulted during an arrest
DC James Morrison, QGM 1991 Stabbed attempting an arrest off-duty
Sgt Alan Derek King 1991 Stabbed attempting an arrest
PC Patrick Dunne 1993 Shot dead while investigating reports of gunfire in the street
Sgt Derek John Carnie Robertson 1994 Stabbed attempting an arrest during a robbery
PC George Pickburn Hammond 1995 Died from injuries sustained in a stabbing in 1985
PC Phillip John Walters 1995 Shot dead attempting an arrest
WPC Nina Alexandra Mackay 1997 Stabbed attempting an arrest
PC Kulwant Singh Sidhu 1999 Fell through a roof while pursuing suspects
PC Christopher Roberts 2007 Collapsed and died after a violent arrest
PC Gary Andrew Toms 2009 Run over when attempting to stop escaping suspects
DC Adele Cashman 2012 Collapsed in pursuit of two robbery suspects
PC Andrew Duncan 2013 Run over when attempting to stop speeding vehicle

Key to rank abbreviations: PC = Police Constable · WPC = Woman Police Constable · WRC = War Reserve Constable · DC = Detective Constable · Sgt = Sergeant · DS = Detective Sergeant · Insp = Inspector · CEO = Civilian Explosives Officer.

See also

Other London emergency services:


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