History of the Met

Heritage Centre

National Archives, Kew

History of the Metropolitan Police

There are many aspects to the history of the London Metropolitan Police service. A history and heritage that dates back to Wednesday 30th September 1829, when Sir Robert Peel, sent out a body of men dressed in a blue single-breasted swallow tail coat, with 8 gilt buttons down the front and each with Victoria Crown and the words ‘Police Force’ stamped upon it, wearing a 4” leather stock fastened at the back with a brass clasp, blue trousers, strapped-over boots, and a black leather top hat.

They become commonly known as ‘Peelers’, and marched out to uphold law and order in the streets of the Metropolis.

The timeline provides a year by year account of the development of the force from those early days to the modernised force that meets the challenges of today's world. In addition to the chronological history, a few specific topics have been included, including Women in Police.


The Timeline

The Timeline has been divided into 4 key areas. Each covers a particular time period of policing from the start of the Bow Street Runners through to the modern police service in action today. Select each one for a year by year account of the developments within the Metropolitan Police Service

before 1829

Covering the start of policing in London, the establishment of the Bow Street Runners and the rise of Sir Robert Peel.

Events between 1829 and 1899

The force adapts alongside a more modern London with riots, the CID, fingerprints, and Jack the Ripper.

Events between 1900 and 1945

Two World Wars and huge social and domestic upheaval brings many new challenges for the force.

from 1946

Post war changes include an increased role for women, rebuilding London and a growing multi-cultural society.

Women in the Police

Find out more about the vital role that women have played in the Metropolitan Police Service from their introduction in 1883 through to the highest positions today.