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LONDON POLICE - 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. 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)

You may be able to have a search done for officers who served in the last part of the nineteenth century, and up until about 1915 by contacting the 'Spike Hughes' database.   Spike Hughes BEM, compiled this database as the result of many hours of inputting officers' names who appeared in Police Orders.   Sadly, Spike died at St Christopher's hospice in December 2006, but hopefully his work will remain as a memorial to him.   An email sent through this site should be answered, and there will be a charge for any details supplied to you to cover their costs.

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

Gallantry Awards

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

If your ancestor worked at a police station in North or East London, you may be interested in a book Behind the Blue Lamp

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Useful Sources

The National Archives are in Ruskin Avenue, Kew, TW9 4DU near Richmond (nearest Underground station - Kew Gardens). Telephone 020 8876 3444. They have a useful website, with a section about the Police Service.    Click here.

You may find copies 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 Historical Collection have a website (www.metpolicehistory.co.uk)

The Met Collection is a small museum-type exhibition centre open to the public Monday - Friday 10am - 4pm at Empress State Building, Lillie Road, London SW6 1TR (near Earls Court exhibition centre, opposite the Hotel Lily, and 300 metres West of West Brompton Underground station.   They are able to search for Central Records of Service for officers who were serving in or after approximately 1932.   historicstore@met.police.uk

The Metropolitan Women Police Association also have a website (www.metwpa.org.uk)

For Waltham Abbey (J Division), try  Epping Forest District Museum

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