One of the most famous police forces in the world, The Metropolitan Police Services, or Scotland Yard, serves London. The headquarters currently stands alongside the River Thames north of Westminster Bridge. It became famous through novels and for its detective work to solve murders and other heinous crimes. In this essay, the backstory of this notorious police force will be uncovered in an effort to educate readers.
In 1829, the London police force was created. Before the initiation of this service, there was a system of watchmen. But it was determined by an act in Parliament that formal patrols by officers were to take place. The headquarters at that time was located in Whitewall, which had an entrance to the Great Scotland Yard. This place was called so because “it stood on the site of a medieval palace that had housed Scottish royalty when the latter were in London on visits” (Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia).
In 1842, plainclothes agents were sent out into the streets. At first, the public was disturbed to discover that secret agents were among them. However, after several important cases were solved by the force and certain detectives became famous, the populace began to accept having “spies” going around London at all hours. One of the most famous individuals from the force was Inspector Charles Frederick Field. According to Smithsonian, “He became good friends with Charles Dickens, who occasionally accompanied constables on their nightly rounds. Dickens wrote a short essay about Field, “On Duty With Inspector Field,” and used him as a model for the all-knowing, charming Inspector Bucket in his novel Bleak House. Field retired as a chief of the detective branch in 1852” (Blumberg, Jess). However, the public did not always feel comfortable with Scotland Yard’s activities. For instance, in 1877, four heads of the detective branch went to trial for joining in on a betting scheme with criminals. The fallout from this was severe in terms of the public’s trust, but after the force was largely restructured and the Criminal Investigation Department was created, people began to admire Scotland Yard again (Blumberg, Jess). As a side note, the Black Museum was founded in 1874. It features memorabilia from Scotland Yard (Davidson, Hayes).
By 1877, the headquarters expanded into several more locations. One of such buildings, on the Victoria Embankment, is now the Ministry of Defence’s headquarters. Strangely, in 1888, during the construction of new places for Scotland Yard, a woman’s body was found. This discovery came to be known as the “Whitehall Mystery,” and it is still an unsolved case (Casebook).
By 1890, the task force became large enough to need another location. The new place was called New Scotland Yard. The amount of staff grew from about 1,000 to approximately 13,000. With ever-growing departments, New Scotland Yard made further expansions in 1906 and 1940. In the coming years into the modern era, the force grew greater in number and gained more security measures. At current, Scotland Yard stays at the Curtis Green Building in Victoria.
Famed for its detectives in the flesh and in fiction, Scotland Yard is perhaps the most famous police force in the world. It started with about 1,000 staff that replaced unofficial patrols in 1829 in London. By solving many criminal cases through its detectives, Scotland Yard has earned a reputation of being one of the finest investigative bureaus. The public in London took a while to adjust to its presence of uncover agents and to its corruption here and there, but overall the populace found a sense of admiration for its police force through its newspaper-headline-worthy acts and the fictional stories written about their detectives.
Blumberg, Jess. “A Brief History of Scotland Yard.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 27 Sept. 2007, www.smithsonianmag.com/history/a-brief-history-of-scotland-yard-172669755/.
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Scotland Yard.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 7 Nov. 2017, www.britannica.com/topic/Scotland-Yard.
Davidson, Hayes. “Royal Opening of New Met HQ Cancelled after London Terror Attack.” Getwestlondon, 23 Mar. 2017, www.mylondon.news/news/west-london-news/royal-opening-new-met-police-12785346.
“Jack the Ripper – Morning Advertiser – 23 October 1888.” Casebook, www.casebook.org/press_reports/morning_advertiser/18881023.html.