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The Metropolitan Police Act, 1829

Taken from Norman Gash, The Age of Peel (London, Edward Arnold, 1973), with the kind permission of Professor Gash. Copyright of this document, of course, remains with him.

In 1828 Peel as Home Secretary secured a select committee to enquire into the state of the police and the increase of crime in the metropolis. Its report (July 1828) for the first time officially recommended a radical reform and extension of the police. The main recommendations were the creation of a central police office under two magistrates freed from all other duties; the amalgamation of all the regular police forces in the London area (excluding the City); and the defrayment of the cost of the new establishment partly from parochial rates, and partly from the Treasury. A bill founded on the report became law in June 1829. An ex-officer, Colonel Charles Rowan, and a young barrister, Richard Mayne, became the first Commissioners as the two new police magistrates were styled; and plans were set on foot for a force of over one thousand men. The new metropolitan police were uniformed but armed only with truncheons. Despite the obstructionism of some parochial authorities and the hostility of the London mob, they soon won the approval of influential public opinion; and a parliamentary committee set up to enquire into the Cold Bath Field riots of 1833 reported strongly in their favour. The metropolitan police headquarters in Whitehall Place had a back-entry in Scotland Yard generally used by the police which soon gave the popular name to the whole building.

Statutes, 10 Geo. IV cap. 44

An Act for improving the Police in and near the Metropolis (19 June 1829)

Whereas Offences against Property have of late increased in and near the Metropolis; and the local Establishments of Nightly Watch and Nightly Police have been found inadequate to the Prevention and Detection of Crime, by reason of the frequent Unfitness of the individuals employed, the Insufficiency of their Number, the limited Sphere of their Authority, and their Want of Connection and Cooperation with each other:

And whereas it is expedient to substitute a new and more efficient System of Police in lieu of such Establishments of Nightly Watch and Nightly Police, within the Limits herein-after mentioned, and to constitute an Office of Police, which, acting under the immediate Authority of One of His Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State, shall direct and control the whole of such new System of Police within those Limits: Be it therefore enacted.…

That it shall be lawful for His Majesty to cause a new Police Office to be established in the City of Westminster, and by Warrant under His Sign Manual to appoint Two fit Persons as justices of the Peace of the Counties of Middlesex, Surrey, Hertford, Essex, and Kent, and of all Liberties therein, to execute the Duties of a justice of the Peace at the said Office, and in all Parts of those several Counties, and the Liberties therein, together with such other Duties as shall be herein-after specified, or as shall be from Time to Time directed by One of His Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State, for the more efficient Administration of the Police within the Limits herein-after mentioned.…

  1. … the whole of the City and Liberties of Westminster, and such of the Parishes, Townships, Precincts, and Places in the Counties of Middlesex, Surrey, and Kent, as are enumerated in the Schedule to this Act, shall be constituted, for the Purposes of this Act, into One District, to be called 'The Metropolitan Police District'; and a sufficient Number of fit and able Men shall from Time to Time, by the Directions of One of His Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State, be appointed as a Police Force for the whole of such District.…
  2. … they said Justices may from Time to Time, subject to the Approbation of One of His Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State, frame such Orders and Regulations as they shall deem expedient, relative to the general Government of the Men to be appointed Members of the Police Force under this Act.…
  1. , XXX. [Magistrates appointed under the act to have powers to levy a rate not exceeding 8d. in the pound on rateable value in all places of which the new police have taken charge.

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