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Scotland Yard -Mysterious and Efficient

I love history and the events that built our great country. Some events have details unknown by the average person and they are interesting.

Scotland Yard - The Beginning source image513 image shack

Scotland Yard - The Beginning source image513 image shack

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, too old for regular jobs, paid a shilling a night and were little more than watchmen.

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 pioneered 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. However, 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.

Thei nrumber 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 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.”

Inside - Scotland Yard - Home of London’s Metropolitan Police force Part 1

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 River.

New Scotland Yard source Wickipedia

New Scotland Yard source Wickipedia

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, which 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) responsible for 4 murders between the years of 1888-1891. He 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.”

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. The fingerprint system were classified using a basic pattern, which is an arch, whorl or loop

In 1901, Henry was appointed Assistant Commissioner of Police at the 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

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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 source Flickr

Bobby 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 receive 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.The Metropolitan Police employed 33,258 police officers, 2,988 Special Constables, 14,332 police staff and 4,520 Police Community Support Officers.

Policing London - Scotland Yard at Last - Extra History

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.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 10, 2015:

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.

Linda Rogers from Minnesota on February 03, 2015:

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.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on February 03, 2015:

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.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on January 31, 2015:

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

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on May 20, 2012:

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

snowdrops from The Second Star to the Right on May 19, 2012:

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

Voted UP and all.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 08, 2011:

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

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on August 08, 2011:

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!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 08, 2011:

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.

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on August 08, 2011:

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

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on August 06, 2011:

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.