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Get Involved with the Metropolitan Police Service

Who we are - an introduction and history

The biggest police force in the UK

The Metropolitan Police Service is famous around the world and is the world's second largest police force after the NYPD in New York. It's known by a number of names including the Met Police, the Met, MPS and even Scotland Yard, the location of its headquarters.

From 1,000 officers…

The Metropolitan Police was founded way back in 1829. It had around 1,000 officers covering a population of less than 2 million people.

…to London's biggest employer

The Metropolitan Police Service now has more than 33,000 officers and 4,700 Police Community Support Officers.

It polices an area of around 620 square miles with a population of 7.2 million.

But it also employs over 14,000 police staff behind the scenes supporting front line officers . Find out more in our section ‘Want to know how you can get involved?’

But it doesn't police the whole of London

The area of ‘Greater London’ that the Metropolitan Police covers is split into 32 boroughs, including Lambeth, Kingston Upon Thames and Edmonton to name a few.

The City of London isn't one of them; that area is overseen by the City of London Police, and is where a lot of large banks and businesses are based.

The majority of the transport network meanwhile is covered by the British Transport Police. This includes tubes, trams and overground trains.

Sir ‘Bobby’ Peel

The Metropolitan Police Service was founded by Sir Robert Peel when he was Home Secretary.

‘Bobbies’ is a nickname sometimes used for the police that comes from Robert Peel - ‘Bobby’ being short for Robert. Police have sometimes historically also been called ‘Peelers’.

New Scotland Yard

The Metropolitan Police's headquarters is New Scotland Yard near St. James's Park Tube station in central London. But the name comes from its original base set between two streets, Whitehall Place and Great Scotland Yard, not far from the London's Embankment. It's not really ‘new’ - in 1890 the Met moved to New Scotland Yard on Victoria Embankment and then again to its current location in 1967.

New Scotland Yard is famous for its rotating sign, often seen on news reports on television. The sign rotates over 14,000 times a day.

Find out more about the history of the Metropolitan Police Service

Much has changed within the Metropolitan Police Service during its 180 year history. The organisation now is very different to the one set up in 1829 when Police Inspectors were paid just £100 a year. You can find lots of information about our history as well as the origins of policing in London on our main web site. Some of the links you might like to try are:

  • A timeline of the Metropolitan Police Service - 1829 to now
    A comprehensive history of the Metropolitan Police Service. In these pages you'll find descriptions of both famous and less well known events that have shaped the Metropolitan Police Service into what it is today. Find out about key people and details of famous cases.
  • Definition and history of policing
    What does the word ‘police’ mean? Who were the first police in Britain? And how did this lead to the Metropolitan Police Service being introduced in London?

Over the years the Metropolitan Police Service have investigated many unusual crimes which have become part of policing history. You can read more about some of the famous historical cases that we have investigated here.

About the Metropolitan Police Service