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The Metropolitan Police force covers all of London except the square mile that comprises the City of London. It was created by Sir Robert Peel's Metropolitan Police Improvement Bill of 1829.

The two men put in charge of this new police force were Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne. They were directly answerable to the Home Secretary. In the beginning Rowan and Mayne had a thousand men under their command.

The headquarters of the police was at 4 Whitehall Place. This backed onto a courtyard which had once been used by the kings of Scotland and it became known as Scotland Yard. The HQ of the Metropolitan Police has moved twice since 1829, to the Victoria Embankment in 1890 and to Broadway in 1967. Each time the new site has been called New Scotland Yard.

In 1850 Richard Mayne resigned as Commissioner and Rowan became sole Commissioner. This was a post he was to hold until his death in 1868. He was suceeded by Edmund Henderson who in turn was replaced by Charles Warren in 1886.

The Met had no detective force until 1842 when the Detective Force was set up. This comprised of 2 inspectors and 6 sergeants. In 1877 three senior detectives were put on trial for conspiracy to defeat the ends of justice (they had colluded with a group of race track swindlers). This resulted in the Detective Force being replaced by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in 1878. The head of the CID was Howard Vincent. He was replaced by James Monro in 1884 and in 1888 Robert Anderson took charge after Monro's resignation.

In 1883 the Special Irish Branch was formed in the wake of a number of dynamitings of public buildings by Fenian terrorists. It later became known as just Special Branch.

Of the five murders usually ascribed to Jack the Ripper four (Nichols, Chapman, Stride and Kelly) took place within the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Police. Catherine Eddowes was murdered in the City of London which had its own police force.


Divisions of the Metropolitan Police

A — Whitehall M — Southwark
B — Chelsea N — Islington
C — St James P — Camberwell
D — Marylebone R — Greenwich
E — Holborn S — Hampstead
F — Paddington T — Hammersmith
G — Finsbury V — Wandsworth
H — Whitechapel W — Brixton
J — Hackney X — Kilburn
K — Bow Y — Highgate
L — Lambeth Z — Croydon

Source: "Scotland Yard" by J F Moylan (1929)


H Division (Whitechapel)

Andrew L Morrison
Assistant Archivist
Rural History Centre
University of Reading