Scotland Yard -Mysterious and Efficient

History of English Police

In the seventeenth century during the reign of Charles II began the first semblance of a police force. At that time they were nicknamed “Charlies” and their job was to patrol the streets at night armed with a rattle to attract attention and a cudgel if they saw a crime being committed. They were usually elderly men, to old for regular jobs, paid a shilling a night and were little more than watchman.

In 1749, the first real police force was formed. There were detectives called the famous “Bow Street Runners.” They were the forefathers of the modern metropolitan police force. There was an unpaid Westminster magistrate, Colonel Thomas de Veil, who pioneering the force and lined his pockets with bribes. He also carried out his own detective work without assistance.

Henry Fielding, the author of “Tom Jones” (1749), was insecure in his ability to make a living for his family by writing and he was the next magistrate but the job paid 1000 pounds which was a small fortune in those days. Six unpaid men except for rewards by citizens banded together to fight crime in the streets. There number rose to 80 after only two years and they were being called the “Bow Street runners” after the house on bow Street where Henry Fielding lived. Henry Fielding died in 1754 and his job was taken by his half brother, John Fielding who went on to expand the police force to include foot patrol. He was responsible for starting a weekly journal called “Hue and Cry” that would later be named the “Police Gazette.” The runners had no uniforms until 1805.

Scotland Yard - The Beginning

source image513 image shack
source image513 image shack

Scotland Yard Breginning

No one is really sure why the name Great Scotland Yard was ultimately chosen but it may have to do with a diplomatic mission between Scotland and the Union of England prior to 1707, or that there was a street named Scot during the Middle Ages. Another theory states that is was a street used for stagecoaches. During the 17th century several government buildings were built and the poet, John Milton lived there during the Commonwealth of England under the Oliver Cromwell’s rule. The staff at Scotland Yard was responsible for the protection of important individuals, public affairs, community patrols, recruitment and the management of personnel. The first plains clothes police were sent out in 1842, but the public wasn’t particularly comfortable with “spies” on the streets.

Over time the charisma of the officers helped win the trust of the community. Charles Dickens who occasionally accompanied constables on the street in their nightly rounds became friends with Inspector Charles Frederick Field and Dickens wrote “On Duty with Inspector Field.” Dickens used Fields as a role model for his charming Inspector Bucket in his novel “Bleak House.”

Sir Robert Peel

Sir Robert Peel

The Metropolitan Police was formed by Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel with the implementation of the Metropolitan Police Act, passed by parliament in 1829

It was Sir Robert Peel that selected the original Scotland Yard for the new police headquarters. This is where the name “Bobbies” originated. Eventually they outgrew these headquarters and built on the Victoria Embankment, which overlooked the Thames.

Bobby Whistle

source worthpoint
source worthpoint

Some of the More Famous Cases

Frederick Porter Wensley (a.k.a. “The Weasel”) is one of the better known detectives around the turn of the century. His 40 year career starting in 1888 was high lighted with many landmark cases. On the morning of November 2, 1917, the street sweepers found Emilienne Gerard, a 32-year old French woman, named the “Blodie Belgium” case. Wensley questioned her lover, Louis Voisin, asking him to write the message “Bloody Belgium.” Voisn made the same spelling error again which sealed his fate as the murderer.

Earlier in Fredrick Wensley’s career he worked on the infamous Jack the Ripper case which almost dominated England’s East End. While building the new headquarters they found a dismembered torso of a female believed to have been a victim of the largely impoverished Whitechapel area murders perpetrated by “Jack the Ripper. The case was never solved. Jack the Ripper was the self-proclaimed alias of the serial killer (or killers) of 4 murders between the years of 1888-1891, and was also responsible for 11 attacks on prostitutes. The police did determine his pattern; he offered to pay for sex, then he would lure the women away and slice their throats. Of course, there was no forensics at that time. Police depended on anthropometry (identifying criminals by certain facial features, such as jaw shape, eyes, etc.). More than 160 people were accused of the crime, ranging from the “Alice in Wonderland” author Lewis Carroll to painter William Richard Sickert. Many letters were received from people claiming to be the killer and in fact, two gave detailed facts and they were signed “Jack the Ripper.” However, the case was officially closed unsolved in 1892.

A blot on English history is Britain's "Bloody Sunday" riot, which occurred on November 13, 1887, when 2,000 police officers disrupted a meeting in Trafalgar Square organized by the Social Democratic Federation, resulting in more than 100 casualties. A pitched battle took place between police and many unskilled, unemployed workers at an open-air meeting. The press attacked the Metropolitan Police unfavorably as compared to the “City of London Police.”

Scotland Yard Sign

source Wickipedia
source Wickipedia

Beginning of Fingerprints

Sir Edward Henry is the one who devised a workable classification for fingerprints after work Sir Frances Galton had accomplished. Henry published his book “Classification of Fingerprints” in 1900. In 1901, Henry was appointed Assistant commissioner of Police at new Scotland yard and began to facilitate his new fingerprint system. By 1902, they had 2000 sets of fingerprints on file. Within ten years his classification system was being widely used throughout the English speaking world

Scotland Yard has enjoyed a place in popular culture as the officers have appeared in popular fiction as characters of mysteries. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories are very popular. Of course, the Scotland Yard “bobbies” can be found standing stoically behind the royal family and other dignitaries

Bobby Directing Traffic

source Flickr
source Flickr

Recent Statistics for Scotland Yard

The New Scotland Yard grew from 1000 officers to about 13,000 in 1890. Further increases in the size and responsibilities of the force required even more administrators and in 1907, and again in 1940, further extensions were completed. Presently the newest Scotland Yard was built in 1967, at 10 Broadway.

Guns are illegal in England and their murder rate is 1/13 of the rate in the USA. Select officers (1750) are allowed to carry pistols and they are used as backup units who have received intensive training on marksmanship, and in discriminating among dangerous criminals, deranged people and lads playing with air pistols. A poll of officers revealed that 79% prefer not to be armed with pistols.

The Metropolitan Police Service today is a very large organization with a complex command structure. There are 33 borough operational commands and various specialist units dedicated to reducing all aspects of serious crime. At the end of February, 2010 the Metropolitan Police employed 33,258 police officers, 2,988 Special constables, 14,332 police staff and 4,520 Police community Support Officers.

Scotland Yard: Famous Crimes

Scotland Yard Games

In Summary

Recently I read that the well known Scotland Yard building will be closed and Scotland Yard offices will be moved to a new office just around the corner. We have seen this building in movies and tours for so many years that it will be an adjustment for employees, as well as, those people who are interested in this age old institution.

There has always been a bit of mystique about Scotland Yard. There have been numerous fictional books written with Scotland Yard as the backdrop. Of course, there is the movie previewed above and at least two Scotland Yard games. Their history is interesting and the work they do today seems to be top of the line. There have been several newsworthy incidences where there involvement quickly solved the case.

© 2010 Pamela Oglesby

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Comments 71 comments

Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV


Wow that's a lot of research. I was wondering where the name Bobbies came from. If they had used his last name they would have been Peelies!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Tom, Good point! Thanks for the comment.

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

Terrific hub, Pamela. I have always been fascinated by Scotland Yard. I guess Sherlock Holmes got to me.

RevLady profile image

RevLady 6 years ago from Lantana, Florida

This has got to be one of your best. So much information.

Like breakfastpop I too have been fascinated by Scotland Yard though I am not sure why.

"Guns are illegal in England and their murder rate is 1/13 of the rate in the USA." Do you think they know something important that we do not or do not want to know?

Interesting hub,

Forever His,

katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

Pam, Great Hub I love Scotland as it's my homeland the Hub Interesting History of Scotland Yard is Fab and I for one LOVE it, I do want a Bobby for round me neck. Thanks and Peace :)

skyfire profile image

skyfire 6 years ago

Nice research you've done in this hub, excellent pamela :)

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Pop ands Rev Lady, Thanks for your comments. I have had a fascination with Scotland Yard also and that's why I decided to write this hub. Rev Lady, I certianly did notice those statistics. I'm not sure we would ever get enough guns away from the criminial element to make this work here and yet anywhere you live there is some death by guns on the news everyday.

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

I can see that you have a done alot of research. Thank you for your wonderful hub.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Katiem, Hope you get your bobby. And Skyfire thank you for your comments.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Hello, Thank you for your comment.

habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

Great hub! I always wondered how it got the name.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Habee, Thanks for your comment. Glad you enjoyed the hub.

eovery profile image

eovery 6 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa


Thanks for sharing this.

Keep on hubbing!

AARON99 6 years ago

A great informative hub with lots of research and also well presented. Well done. Enjoy.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Eovery & Aaron, Thank you so much for your comments.

Ann Nonymous profile image

Ann Nonymous 6 years ago from Virginia

I love history and this was indeed interesting. You did a wonderful job on this hub Pamela. Thank you for all the research, excellent writing and hard work you put into this!

carolina muscle profile image

carolina muscle 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

what an interesting hub!!!!! wow, you did serious some research for this !

D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England

Pamela99, I really enjoyed this hub, and appreciate the hard work you have done to achieve it. Coming from England {and being biased} I think our police force is the best in the world.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Ann, Carolina and D.A.L. Thank you all for your wonderful comments. D.A.L. Everything I read made me think you are probably right and since you live there your comment says a lot. Thanks.

Roberta 6 years ago

Great hub. It was interesting and educational and truly entertaining. You did a terrific job.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Thank you both for your comments.

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

This is fantastic. I know about Scotland from my friend who living in England. But I know more about the history of Scotland from you. As a teacher I liked reading this hub. Two thumbs up for you. Good work, Pamela.

RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada

Pam, this is a great hub. Looking forward to reading more.

Mystique1957 profile image

Mystique1957 6 years ago from Caracas-Venezuela


this is an extraordinary hub filled with lots of interesting information. I had no idea how Scotland Yard came to be! Excellent research and detailed facts! Thanks for sharing!

Thumbs up!

Warmest regards and infinite eternal blessings,


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Prasetio and Red Elf, I certainly appreciate your kind words and I'm glad you both enjoyed the hub. Thank you for your comments.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Mystique, Thank you so much for the compliment. I appreciate the thumbs up and certainly the eternal blessings. God Bless.

Partisan Patriot 6 years ago


Very very interesting and informative hub. I love historical accounts. You did surprise me with your gun statistics but believe the parallel is not an accurate comparison. Comparing the murder rate in a country where guns are outlawed and haven't played a particularly important part in the country's development as compared to the prominent part guns played in settling the west and maintaining order in this newly developed section of our country constitutes an incongruent relationship. I think a more accurate comparison would have been a comparison of the murder rate in cities where guns are outlawed in this country as compared to the murder rate in cities where citizens are allowed to carry guns and defend themselves against Obama Supporters!

ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas

Very nicely done Pamela I remember when I got my degree in Criminology we learned all about the history of Scotland Yard and it was very interesting. You did a great job.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Patriot, I was just really stating a fact, not really trying to make a comparison, plus England is a whole different type of country than the USA and they've never had guns. The USA was established differently and I didn't suggest we give up our guns. Thanks for your comment.

Ladyjane, Thank you for the compliment. I'm glad you stopped by.

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

Thank you so much about the information Pamela, well researched hub and I rated it up! Maita

Petra Vlah profile image

Petra Vlah 6 years ago from Los Angeles

This is a great hub Pamela, congratulations. The research is fantastic and the information is interesting and very well presented. I enjoy it a lot and learned a great deal about the history of Scotland Yard. Thank you

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Miata and Petra, Thank you so much for your kind comments. I;m glad you enjoyed the hub.

hubpageswriter 6 years ago

I'm always curious about this and you have featured it in your hub, awesome. Thanks for this.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Hubpagewriter I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. Thanks for your comment.

Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 6 years ago from Northam Western Australia

Great hub and lots of researched info. I have wondered about the bobbies I thought it might have started with a couple with robert -bob names. Thanks for sharing this

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Eileen, Thank you for your comment.

James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

I truly enjoyed this history lesson. I had always wondered why they were called Bobbies. Thank you for this pleasure.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

James, I am glad you enjoyed the hub and thank you for the comment.

Springboard profile image

Springboard 6 years ago from Wisconsin

Very fascinating piece Pamela, so thanks for taking the time to research it and write it. Well done. :) I find it interesting, as well, the vast difference in the murder rate there vs. here—though I am opposed to gun control. But it is an interesting statistic to say the least and I'd be interested in knowing more about the dynamic of that statistic.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Springboard, Thanks so much for your comment.

Kay Creates profile image

Kay Creates 6 years ago from Ohio

I'm trying to imagine the old fellows armed with rattles. Interesting that their murder rate is so much lower. Well researched article.

Smireles profile image

Smireles 6 years ago from Texas

Great hub. So much research! You are doing an awesome job!

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Kay, Yes, the rattles seem a little useless other than drawing out a crowd due to noise. Smireles, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. Thank you both for your comments.

Support Med. profile image

Support Med. 6 years ago from Michigan

Great article! Thank goodness for fingerprints. Good to know the police are doing a great job there. I think they gave up too soon on Jack the Ripper, however. Although the new building is more modern, the older one looks more like England in my opinion. Interesting read!

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Support Med, Thank you for your comments. Jack the ripper would be caught with the technology we have now but they had so many possible killer, maybe they did give up to soon.

Money Glitch profile image

Money Glitch 6 years ago from Texas

Interesting statistics on the guns being illegal and the vast difference of murders in the US and England. Thanks for sharing the history of Scotland Yard. Very informative. :)

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Money Glitch, Thanks for your comment.

Rebecca E. profile image

Rebecca E. 6 years ago from Canada

Of all teh things I never knew this has to be one of them, thanks for writing this wonderful hub, ofr teh hisotry buff in me this adds to everything I've read.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Rebecca, Thank you for your comment. I enjoyed searching out the history on this one.

Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 6 years ago from India

As one who grew up on tales about the exploits of English detectives, I was fascinated by this history of Scotland Yard!

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Feline Prophet, I am so happy you enjoyed my hub. Thank you for the comment.

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

Such a good point about cops being without guns there. There was a gun crime being committed one fine day in NYC - and there just happened to be a visiting Bobby who ran the criminal down, even took the gun. When asked how he could do this without a gun of his own, he asked what did he need a gun for. Ah, then living in Seoul, S. Korea - again police officers have no guns (yes, there are special agents with guns) but I have never felt safer in my life.

Of course Americans need guns so we can...kill other Americans. What a vicious gun cycle we live in.

When my cousin comes from England he brings me community policing magazines from Hertsfordshire! Quite interesting.

Oh, I know I can go on and on - but thank you for an interesting hub. I love the photo!

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

BK, Thank you for your input. There are so many guns in the US that I think people fear if they turn there gun in that only the bad guys will have the guns. It is a fear mentality I guess. I liked your story about the officer running down the man with the gun.

viking305 profile image

viking305 6 years ago from Ireland

A very interesting and well researched hub. It was a pleasure to read. I too love writing history hubs and can see how much research and effort went into this. I will be bookmarking this hub to read again, thank you

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Viking, Thank you for the compliment. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub.

RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada

Most excellent - came back to read this again, and posted it to FaceBook!

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Red Elf, I am so glad you enjoyed the hub and thank you for your comments.

Becky Puetz profile image

Becky Puetz 5 years ago from Oklahoma

Pamela, this was an interesting Hub. Well written with great research and detail. Voted up and awesome.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

Becky, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. I appreciate your comments.

Peter Temple 5 years ago

I have a question. When was the first use of artist's drawings by Scotland Yard to catch criminals? I know you say they used “anthropometry" for the Jack the Ripper Case, but that was in Victorian times. What about the 1950's?

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

Peter, I wrote this at least a year ago and did a lot of research but I do not know the answer to your question without doing more research. If I remember correctly I do believe they started using 2 color drawing around that time. Thanks for your comments; sorry I wasn't more helpful.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

I love the mystique surrounding the oddly-named Scotland Yard, often referred to as simply "the Yard". The "Mrs. Jefferies" mystery series is set in the early 1890s and centered around the household of a fictitious Yard homicide detective named Inspector Witherspoon, whose fame is based on his ability to always "get his man" (with the help of household staff, but he doesn't know this). Every book mentions that the murderer *must* be caught, to avoid the Yard further embarrassment due to the Ripper murders remaining unsolved.

Great hub! ;D

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

I have been fascinated with Scotland Yard which is why I wrote this hub. I have not read that series but it sounds like one I would thoroughly enjoy. I appreciate your comments.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

The first three books of the "Mrs. Jeffries" series are usually found together as a one-volume trilogy. I recommend this be read first, as the personal lives of the staff progress in each of the 28 books. I made the mistake of starting in the middle and therefore was a bit mystified about how certain recurring characters fit in. I should also mention, if you know anything about London, the author isn't particularly concerned with geographical accuracy, but makes up for that with plots that (most of the time) keep you guessing right to the end. Great "light" reading!

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

JamaGenee, I like to start at the beginning and I appreciate the information.

snowdrops profile image

snowdrops 4 years ago from The Second Star to the Right

I guess this hub took a lot of effort and research. Very terrific! Nice to read something different.

Voted UP and all.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

I was very curious about Scotland Yard, so I enjoyed the research. Thanks for your comments.

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 24 months ago from sunny Florida

Such a thorough article about a place of intrigue.The name Scotland Yard, brings all kinds of images to mind, most of which I read about in Sherlock Holmes adventures.

Well done, Pamela.

Angels are on the way to you this evening ps

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 23 months ago from United States Author

Patricia, I am glad you enjoyed the article, and I thought of Sherlock Holmes also as those adventures were always exciting. Thanks so much for your comments and the angels. I will send angels back to you.

Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 23 months ago from Minnesota

Pamela-this is so incredibly fascinating and intriguing. You sure did your homework on this well written piece. I love the whole Sherlock Holmes stories and now watch it on Netflix with my niece. Sharing this great article.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 23 months ago from United States Author

Twins, I love those stories also and have always been fascinated with Scotland Yard, I am glad you enjoyed the hub. Thanks so much for your comments.

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