How to look for records of... London Metropolitan Police

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

View online

How many are online?

  • None
  • Some
  • All

Order copies

We can either copy our records onto paper or deliver them to you digitally

Pay for research

Use our paid search service or find an independent researcher

Visit us

Visit us in Kew to see original documents or view online records for free

1. Why use this guide?

This guide explains how to find police entry books, registers, pension and other useful records relating to staff of the London Metropolitan Police.

For other police forces (such as transport police) other than London Metropolitan Police, see our introductory guide on the Police.

County and borough police force records might be held by local record offices or in the archives of a specific police force. Find contact details for archives elsewhere using find an archive.

2. Essential information

The National Archives has a substantial collection of Metropolitan Police staff records, but not all have survived.

3. What can I view online?

You can view some records such as police registers online.

3.1 Metropolitan police registers (1829-1958)

Search Metropolitan police registers in MEPO 4/31-32, MEPO 4/361-477 and MEPO 4/352-477 if you have the officer’s warrant number. The records are arranged in order of warrant numbers.

If you do not know the warrant number, search:

  • the Metropolitan police registers of leavers in MEPO 4/339-351 (arranged by date)
  • registers of joiners in MEPO 4/333-338 (arranged alphabetically within ranges of warrant numbers)

3.2 Returns of deaths for Metropolitan Police personnel (1829-1889)

Consult MEPO 4/2 for returns of death, which gives the cause of death.

4. How to search for records

Records of the Metropolitan Police have the departmental reference MEPO. Other records relating to the police were created by the Home Office and have the department code HO.

You can view some of the records online. Use the summary of useful record series below to see at a glance the range of records we hold.

Use the advanced search option in our catalogue using relevant keywords such as the name of an officer or a police station, or broader search terms such as ‘discipline’ or ‘promotion’. Limit your search to department codes MEPO and HO.

Use our help page to find out how to search our catalogue effectively.

5. Summary of useful records

Metropolitan Police staff records have not survived in their entirety. Some records such as staff registers can be viewed online. For more information, see section 3: what can I view online.

5.1 Alphabetical Register

HO 65/26 gives dates of promotion or demotion.

5.2 Pension records

Search our catalogue by name within MEPO 21 for pension records.

5.3 King’s Police medal records

Search our catalogue by the term ‘King’s Police medal’ within HO 45 for files relating to the award of the King’s Police Medal.

Consult MEPO 22/2 for a register of officers under consideration for the King’s Police Medal.

See also the London Gazette for the notifications of awards.

5.4 Nominal roll of special constables

Consult a nominal roll of special constables from 1875 in MEPO 2/143.

5.5 Police orders

Browse police orders containing notification of personnel matters including those relating to the Special Constabulary in MEPO 7.

6. Abbreviations found in records

When using these records you might come across the following abbreviations in records such as registers of leavers:

  • RP – resignation permitted
  • RR – required to resign
  • CO – Commissioner’s Office

7. Records in other archives

The British Transport Police website contains information on historical resources.

The Metropolitan Police has a collection of personnel records including records of service and a name database.

The Metropolitan Police Heritage Centre has an incomplete set of divisional records for A, B, E, F, G, H, K, L, M, N, R and Y.

The Metropolitan Women Police Association holds a database of names of all women police officers from warrant No 1, issued in 1919, to warrant No 7474, issued in 1986. Use their online contact form to find out more.

The Open University has some online images of divisional and station records including some occurrence and charge books.

Contact the Police Roll of Honour Trust which maintains the Police Roll of Honour and includes a section for the Metropolitan Police.

The Wapping Police Station Museum holds Thames Division ledgers.

8. Background

It might help when searching for records to know that:

  • the Metropolitan Police Act 1829 defined the Metropolitan Police District as an area about seven miles radius from Charing Cross, London
  • the second Act in 1839 extended this to about a 15 mile radius from Charing Cross and included all of Middlesex
  • in 1869 this area was divided into four districts, each of which had a number of divisions (see below)
  • from 1860 to 1934 the Metropolitan Police also had responsibility for the police of the Royal Dockyards and military stations Portsmouth, Chatham, Devonport, Pembroke and Woolwich
  • from 1914 to 1926 they also had responsibility for Rosyth in Scotland

If you know the division an officer worked in, you can extend your research to include looking at divisional records. Where records mention an officer’s division they often use the following letter codes:

  • No. 1 District: G – Finsbury; H – Whitechapel; K – Stepney; N – Islington; and Thames Division
  • No. 2 District: D – Marylebone; E – Holborn; S – Hampstead; X – Paddington; Y – Highgate
  • No. 3 District: A – Whitehall; B – Westminster; C – St James’s; T – Kensington; V – Wandsworth
  • No. 4 District: L – Lambeth; M – Southwark; P – Camberwell; R – Greenwich; W – Clapham
  • F Division – Covent Garden
  • J Division – Bethnal Green, added in 1886
  • Z Division – Croydon, formed in 1921; Croydon was previously included in W Division
  • Q Division – Wembley, formed in 1965; Wembley was previously X Division
  • Division letter codes I, O and U were never used

Maps of the districts and their changing boundaries can be found in record series MEPO 15.

9. Other sources

The Metropolitan Police website has a history and archives section.

The Friends of the Metropolitan Police Historical Collection offer advice on tracing police ancestors.

The London Gazette published notifications of awards of the King’s Police Medal – search The Gazette website.

10. Further reading

Use our library catalogue to find a recommended book list.

The books are all available in The National Archives’ reference library. You may also be able to find them in a local library. You can buy from a wide range of history titles in our bookshop.

Guide reference: Domestic Records Information 52