The first modern police force in England was the Metropolitan Police Force, created in 1829. Provincial police forces in England and Wales did not begin in incorporated boroughs until after the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835, and elsewhere until after the County Police Act of 1839. Before that policing was carried out by locally employed watchmen, constables and magistrates.
For all other police records, other than the London Metropolitan Police and the Royal Irish Constabulary you will need to go to other archives and organisations.
Local police forces
Surviving records of local police forces are not public records and are held either by local archives or the respective police force itself. Not all police staff records have survived. Contact the local police force itself for their records or try the respective county or city archive. Search for contact details using our Find an archive tool.
The City of London Police registers (1832 onwards)
Consult registers of The City of London Police. These list every member of the force since warrant numbers were introduced in 1832, together with personal files on 95% of officers who have served since that date. They are held by the Corporation of London Record Office.
Colonial police forces
Records of the forces may well have been deposited in the archives of the country to which they relate.
Overseas railway police
The Control Office for Germany and Austria and the Control Commission for Germany (British Element) were responsible for transport in the occupied territories after the war. They were part of the Foreign Office and their records have the department code FO.
You can search our catalogue within the department code FO with keyword phrases such as:
- “control commission AND railway”
- “control office AND railway”
Other records on railway policing overseas were created by the Colonial Office, Dominions Office and Foreign Office. Their records have the departmental codes CO, DO and FO respectively.
You can search our catalogue within CO, DO or FO using keywords such as “railway police”.