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History of the Met Police

The Metropolitan Police (commonly known as the Met) serves the Greater London area's 8.6 million residents. The force was set up by Robert Peel, as a result of the Metropolitan Police Act 1829, with the first police officers appearing on the streets on 30th September that year.

Peel was a Conservative MP who was Home Secretary at the time and went on to serve as Prime Minister from 1834 to 1835 and from 1841 to 1846. He is known as the father of modern policing and during his term in office as Home Secretary, he reformed criminal law and created the forerunner of today's force. Police officers became known as "peelers" and "bobbies" in tribute.


Early years

When the Met was first established, it comprised eight superintendents, 20 inspectors, 88 sergeants, 895 constables and five clerks. Recruitment began on 21st September and the inspectors - who earned £100 per year - were instructed to take charge on 30th September at 4pm. When the beat bobbies arrived, they were told to familiarise themselves with their area the following day.

The truncheons in those days were fashioned from bamboo on lancewood and measured 20 inches long. The uniform consisted of a blue single-breasted coat (with eight gilt buttons emblazoned with the words "Police Force" and the Victoria Crown), blue trousers, black boots and a black top hat made of leather.

The wages for beat bobbies was 21 shillings per week, the superintendents earned £200 per annum and sergeants earned 22s 6d per week.

Many changes took place in the 1930s including the launch of the Information Room, Harry Battley's fingerprints classification system, the revision of divisional boundaries, the abolition of fixed traffic points - to be replaced with automatic traffic signals - and the employment of the first appointed staff officer for female police, Miss Dorothy Peto OBE (11th April 1930). The Children and Young Persons Act of 1933 saw all reports on juveniles channelled through the A4 Branch, led by Miss Peto. This became an important part of female police officers' work. The pay for new recruits had risen to 63 shillings a week by 1933.


War years

World War II was a difficult time for the Met - one of the district's greatest tragedies was the death of 173 people in March 1943,who were killed by a bomb as they made their way to the air raid shelter at Bethnal Green Underground. The police stations at Brockley, Arbour Square, Epsom, East Greenwich and Highgate were hit during air raids and WPC Margaret Gleghorn was killed by a bomb while patrolling Tottenham Court Road. The first "Doodlebug" flying bomb landed on Grove Road in Bow and the Met's Mounted Branch riding school was also bombed.

Further changes took place after the war, when the Met suffered a deficiency of 4,730 officers as a result of the conflict. In 1946, the Met's fraud department was launched and the use of police dogs began. The new Training School Division was formed and the archaic law that forbade women police officers to marry was lifted.


Crime rate

In 1959, the highest number of indictable offences in history (more than 160,000) was recorded. The traffic warden scheme was launched on 16th September 1960, including the creation of a central ticket office. In March 1961, the Metropolitan Police Frogman Unit was formed and in 1962, indictable crimes hit another all-time high at 214,120 in one year.

In 1963, the first police computer was used in the Receiver’s Office to store data on crime statistics and police pay. Also in the 1960s, the Met's regional crime squads came into operation, the death penalty was suspended and personal radios were introduced for police officers.

The 1970s saw some welcome new career opportunities for female police officers, who were permitted to join the mounted branch, become dog handlers and join the traffic division for the first time. The first female dog handler was Nicola Gray in 1979.

The old Police Box system was discontinued and the Police National Computer came into operation, along with the Central Vehicle Index. As society became more diverse, recruitment campaigns were launched to attract more officers from ethnic minority backgrounds.


Police deaths

The most shocking incident of the '80s was in 1984, when WPC Yvonne Joyce Fletcher was murdered by gunfire during a protest outside the Libyan People’s Bureau in St James’s Square. The decade also saw the Met take over responsibility for dealing with offences on London buses from the British Transport Police. In 1986, the police at Heathrow Airport were armed with machine guns for the first time.

In the 1990s, the new Crime Report Information System was launched, providing an improved computerised system for recording crime, while body armour was issued to front line officers for the first time. On 24th June 1995, the Met relinquished responsibility for escorting prisoners to court after 137 years, handing over the reins to Securicor Custodial Services Ltd.


The Met today

In the 21st century, the Met has continued to develop and move with the times. The Counter-Terrorist Command (known as SO15) was formed on 2nd October 2006, combining the duties formerly carried out by the Anti-Terrorist Branch and Special Branch. This followed the bomb attacks on London Underground trains and buses in 2005.

The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act of 2011 saw the Mayor of London become responsible for the governance of the Met police through the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime, known as MOPAC. The Police and Crime Committee is responsible for scrutinising the work of MOPAC.

Coruba is proud to have supplied the Met with rubber matting products. We have matting solutions that are suitable for use on a shooting range and others that are perfect for dog vans. Please contact us for further details.

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