Scotland Yard is the headquarters of London's Metropolitan Police, responsible for safety, crime investigation, and emergency response. The name refers to the building in which the police station is headquartered, which was originally on Great Scotland Yard before moving to Broadway Street in 1967. The name stuck after the move, and it has become a symbol for police work and British law enforcement in general.
The Metropolitan Police was formed in 1829 when Sir Robert Peel, along with others, was concerned about public safety in the rapidly growing city of London, and felt that a police force was needed to protect the citizens. Investigative committees in the House of Lords agreed, and the Metropolitan Police was established. It was responsible for coordinating all the law enforcement in London, while reforming and improving policing conditions.
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The expanding Metropolitan Police were given new headquarters at Great Scotland Yard in 1875, and while the public entered through Whitehall, one of the cross streets, there was also a small public entrance on the main street. The Criminal Investigations Branch, along with others, was housed there. It became a central location for most administrative offices in the Metropolitan Police force, although branch stations had administrative staff as well.
Scotland Yard has given nomenclature to a number of common terms, including "Black Maria" for police van, which became popular in 1858. A number of crime techniques including fingerprinting also got their start at there, which often pioneers law enforcement technology. Some of the first female police patrols originated in Scotland Yard, which employed women earlier than many other metropolitan police forces.
The Metropolitan Police has a greater depth of responsibility than the police forces it oversees and is active in international crime detection as well as in London. Scotland Yard protects the Royal Family of England, and the commissioner reports directly to the home secretary. It also works closely with British intelligence organizations to exchange information and personnel.
Scotland Yard employees have investigated some of the most famous crime characters in history, including Jack the Ripper, Dr. Crippen, and the Kray Gang. The organization is often looked to by other metropolitan police forces around the world as a model for organization and crime solving, with the highly centralized headquarters overseeing regional police stations. To many people, the Metropolitan Police Force has a well-earned reputation for efficient, compassionate, effective service throughout London.