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FAMILY HISTORY ENQUIRIES
The Metropolitan Police was formed in 1829, and over 200,000 officers have joined it since its formation. The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), through its history, has partly comprised Divisions, each given one or more letters signifying different parts of London. These Divisional letters, and a Divisional number, appear on the uniform epaulettes or collars of Constables and Sergeants. Over time, the Divisional numbers are re-allocated to other officers, and, without a date, they will normally not identify an officer with any degree of certainty. Divisions were replaced by Command Units from around 1993-94, and officers still wear letters and numbers on their uniforms. On joining, each officer is allocated a personal warrant number, and it is this warrant number which is a certain means of identification.
Recruitment to the Metropolitan Police has never been below the age of eighteen.
In searching for an officer’s details researchers should be aware that not all records have survived. The first important step is to try to identify the officer’s warrant number. These started from no 1 in 1829, and, apart from the first six months, were allocated consecutively according to when officers joined. A warrant number can therefore indicate the year in which an officer joined. If an officer leaves and re-joins, a second warrant number is allocated. To see a chart of warrant numbers by year of issue, click here The Metropolitan Police Service, uniquely for the United Kingdom, has been subject to the Public Records Acts, and therefore has sent various records to the National Archives, Kew.
Officers who have died in the course of their duty are very likely to be included in the Police Roll of Honour Trust website (www.policememorial.org.uk)
Census records will often record police officers living in the London area who might have been serving with the City of London, railway, market or dock police. The Metropolitan Police did in fact police the military dockyards and establishments at Portsmouth, Chatham, Devonport, Pembroke and Woolwich from 1860 until 1934, and Rosyth 1914 - 1926.
If your family member lived at the Metropolitan and City of London Police Orphanage, you may be able to request the Orphans' Fund, which is a registered charity and worth supporting, to search in their archives. Click here
To learn more about Metropolitan Police Gallantry Awards, click here
London police officers who have received Bronze Royal Humane Society Awards between 1891 and 1907 are listed here.
If you wish to search our database on Metropolitan Police gallantry awards, click here
For details of all Metropolitan Police stations 1829 - 2020, you may be interested in the book Behind the Blue Lamp which includes a gazetteer of police stations, chapters about the Metropolitan Police District, Thames Division, Royal Dockyards, uniform badges of rank, women police, a history of Divisions, and charts of warrant numbers and section houses.
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The National Archives are in Ruskin Avenue, Kew, TW9 4DU near Richmond (nearest Underground station - Kew Gardens). Telephone 020 8876 3444. www.nationalarchives.gov.uk Documents include Registers of Joiners 1830 - April 1857 and July 1878 - April 1933 (MEPO 4/333-8); Certificate of Service Records from January 1889 - November 1909 and part of 1873 (MEPO 4/361 - 477 and MEPO 4/509); and pension files (MEPO 21 series)
You may find details of birth, marriage and death registrations at your local library, or through internet searching such as www.ancestry.co.uk
The Friends of the Metropolitan Police Heritage Charity have a website (www.fomphc.com) with a helpful timeline of relevant historical events.
The Metropolitan Police Heritage Centre has been based in a small museum-type exhibition centre at Empress State Building, Lillie Road, London SW6 1TR but they are due to move their accommodation in 2022. Telephone 020 7161 1234. Email: HeritageCentre@met.pnn.police.uk
The Metropolitan Women Police Association also have a website (www.metwpa.org.uk)
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