Friends of the

Metropolitan Police History

Time Zone: 1900 - 1914


PC 240 ‘H’ Division Ernest THOMPSON (Wt No 76476) stabbed in the neck by a man whom he had moved after a street disturbance in Whitechapel.

Construction of a new floating police station at Waterloo Pier.

Lord BELPER Committee enquired into the best possible system of identification of criminals. Edward Henry demonstrates his system for retrieving specific fingerprint patterns from a mass collection.

May 18 - Mafeking night.

Dec 31 - Rent Aid allowance granted.


First police photographer employed.

Strength of Force 15,508, Population 6,554,449.

Telephone exchange installed at New Scotland Yard.

Uniform: Imperial Crown Buttons.

Flag-pole fell at hoisting of black flag at execution of H. J. BENNETT.

Jan - Death of Queen Victoria, Edward VII acceded the throne.

May 31 - Edward HENRY appointed Assistant Commissioner.

Jul 1 - The Fingerprint Branch commenced operation after the findings of the BELPER Report. Anthropometric measurements under the Bertillon system were still used but began to decline in importance.

Aug - The coronation of King Edward VII made major demands on the police, resulting in 512 police pensioners being recalled for duty. Extra pay, leave and a medal was granted to all serving officers.

End of Boer War.

Detective Training School established.

Photographic Branch established.

Nov - P/Sgt 16 ‘R’ Neil MacDougal fatally shot at Police Revolver Championships at Eltham.


Jun - District Underground Railway extended from Whitchapel to Bromley-by-Bow to connect with the London, Tilbury and Southend Line.

Aug - Coronation of Edward VII and Queen Alexandra - deferred from June because of illness. Police pensioners re-engaged to form temporary ‘O’ or ‘Z’ Divisions.

Sep 13 - Fingerprint evidence first used at the Old Bailey against Harry JACKSON for burglary.

Dec - Women prisoners cease to be incarcerated within Brixton House of Correction, which would now house male prisoners only.


Last steam train on underground.

Metropolitan Streets Act

11,500 horse cabs (7,500 hansoms; 4,000 4-wheelers).

Motor car Act - speed limit 20 m.p.h. - Drivers to be licensed.

First petrol cab licensed.

Private telephone lines installed between Divisions and Commissioner’s Office.

Sergeants introduced on Thames Division (Police Order 29 September 1903).

Two cars purchased for Commissioner and Receiver.

Jan - Fire at Colney Hatch - 52 women killed.

Third Class Inspectors re-designated Sergeants.

Mar 4 - Commissioner, Sir Edward BRADFORD retired - Succeeded by Sir Edward HENRY.

Apr - Public Carriage Office refuse to license first experimental Petrol-electric Fischer (USA) omnibus.

Apr 7 - George CHAPMAN executed.

May - First London County Council electric tram line opened between Westminster Bridge and Clapham by Prince of Wales.

Jun - Explosion at Woolwich, 16 killed.

Dec 11 - First petrol cab licensed.


Motor Cars (Use and Construction) order.

Replacement of horse-buses by motor buses on a large scale.

Royal Commission on Traffic.

Proper method of instruction for police candidates introduced.

Six new stations built at East Ham, Hackney, John Street, Muswell Hill, North Woolwich and Tower Hill. One was near completion and two other started. Major works took place at twenty-three other stations.

Adolf BECK's second wrongful conviction for fraud on identification and handwriting evidence (see 1895). The real perpretrator is arrested whilst Beck is in prison after the Trial Judge delayed sentence because of lingering personal doubts about the case. The Court of Criminal Appeal is established in 1907 as a result.

Jan - Number plates and licences issued, under the Motor Car (Registration and Licensing) Order 1903.

Aug - London’s first municipal crematorium opened in Aldersbrook Rod, E12.

Dec - North Woolwich Police Station opened.


First militant suffragettes.

Aliens Act - Secretary of State given power to deport.

May - Fingerprint evidence first given in murder trial in England (Albert and Alfred STRATTON).

An article in Police Review mentioned that PC William HALLETT of ‘Y’ Division, who had retired after twenty-six years as a mounted officer, had ridden 144,000 miles or more than 5 times around the world in the course of his duty.

Building of Scotland House commenced - completed in 1907.

Public telephone lines to New Scotland Yard finally installed (previously tried in 1881).


Madame D’ANGELEY Case (wrongful arrest and perjury).

Royal Commission on Metropolitan Police 1906 - 08.

Metropolitan Police officers at this time were on duty for 13 days a fortnight and had an annual leave of 10 days.

Two despatch vans - 6 hp, vertical engine, single cylinder, Siddeley.

Jan - East Greenwich Police Station opened.

Great Northern, Piccadilly & Brompton ‘Tube’ opened between Hammersmith and Finsbury Park.

Feb - LCC opens Kingsway Subway.

Hoxton Police Station renamed Old Street.

Mar - Bakerloo Underground Railway opened - Baker Street - Kennington Road (Lambeth North).

Oct - Hampton and Notting Hill Police Stations opened.


Scotland House completed.

Two Stores delivery Vans - 10hp Adams-Hewitt.

Telephones exchanges installed at all police stations.

Church and Sexton convicted for being drunk and disorderly. Action against police. Convicted for perjury.

Taximeters made compulsory on motor cabs.

Privilege cabs at railway station abolished.

Feb 13 - Clash between the police and 800 Suffragettes outside the House of Commons. Mounted and Foot officers were used to disperse them and allegations of brutality were made.

Mar 25 - Horse Van Dispatch service between New Scotland Yard and Divisions replaced by motor vans.

June - Charing Cross to Golders Green/Highate Underground Railway opened.

Sep - Camden Town Murder - discovered in Agar Grove (Emily Dimmock).

Oct - Peel House Training School, Regency Street, established.



Under 16s exempt from Capital Punishment.

Port of London Authority formed.

Olympic Games at White City.

Prevention of Crimes Act.

Winslow Boy Case (George Archer SHEE).

Royal Commission on Metropolitan Police.

Post of Engineer (Electrical) for the Metropolitan Police created.

The Police Review reported, ‘the authorities at Scotland Yard have been seriously discussing the use of dogs as the constable companion and help, and Sir Edward HENRY (Commissioner), who regards the innovation sympathetically, considers the only crucial objection to be the sentimental prejudices of the public’.

Jun - Rotherhithe Tunnel opened by the Prince of Wales


Small recruiting commission for Metropolitan Police toured country.

George TRIPP appointed Receiver.

Departments first became distinguishable by letters of the alphabet - ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ (Police Order 29 Dec 1909).

Police Act (Widows Pensions. Fourth Assistant Commissioner).

City of London (Street Traffic) Act.

Oscar SLATER Case.

Uniform: Gloves for Sergeants and Constables - white cotton for summer, black woollen for winter.

Jan 23 - The Tottenham Outrage occurred in which PC William Frederick TYLER was shot in the head by armed robber, Paul HEFELD, whom he was pursuing and a 10-year-old boy was shot dead by anarchists.

Apr - Port of London Authority Police formed from various dock company police.

Jul 7 - Kings Police and Fire Services Medal instituted.


Increase in Metropolitan Police strength 17,000.

Police Weekly Rest Day Act.

Port of London Authority Police formed.

Fast motor boats introduced for use by River Police.

Death of King Edward VII. Accession by George V.

The miners strike in South Wales results in many Metropolitan Police officers assisting to maintain law and order.

Uniform: Kepi worn by Superintendents and Inspectors since 1864 replaced by caps.

Jul 29/30 - Telegraph messages sent to S.S. Montrose on which Dr Crippen and Ethel le Neve were sailing to New York. Wireless telegraphy having been used for the first time to apprehend a criminal.

Nov 23 - Dr. Hawley Harvey CRIPPEN executed.

Dec 16 - Houndsditch murders - City of London PS Robert BENTLEY, PS Charles TUCKER and PC Walter CHOAT murdered, leading to the Sidney Street Siege.



Railway Strike.

Strike in South Wales.

Uniform: Tudor Crown Buttons.

Jan 1 - Murder of Leon BERON.

Jan 2 - Siege of Sidney Street, Stepney. Armed Metropolitan Police took to the streets with the military to deal with armed anarchist criminals.

Jun 22 - Coronation of George V.

Oct - Last London General Omnibus Company horse-bus ran between Moorgate and London Bridge Station.

Dec 4 - SEDDON Case.


Metropolitan Police Act.

Metropolitan Police qualifications: Over 20 and under 27 years of age, 5’ 9”, no more than two dependant children.

Several De Dion Bouton vans added to vehicle fleet.

Southern Extension to New Scotland Yard added. Buildings known as North and South.

Committee recommended Central Traffic authority.

Establishment of the Metropolitan Police Special Constabulary on a permanent basis.

Rifling marks on revolver barrels demonstrated by Robert Churchill and police photographer William Mc Bride in the trial of John William for the murder of Inspector Arthur Walls in Eastbourne.

Fosdick’s ‘European Police Systems’ published.

Several De Dion Bouton vans added to fleet.

Apr 15 - Sinking of the ‘Titanic’.

Jul - Central London tube railway extended from Bank to Liverpool Street.

Nov 27 - Attempted assassination of Commissioner Sir Edward HENRY.


Sir Basil THOMSON appointed Assistant Commissioner.

Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for ill-health) Act.

The Commissioner called for legislation to be introduced to restrict the trade in pistols following the assassination attempt on his own life.

Nina Boyle and Edith Watson - journalists and members of the 'Women' Freedom League' a feminist suffragette movement, started first moves towards what became the Women Police.

Apr 1 - Weekly rest day came into full operation.

Jun 4 - Emily Wilding DAVISON killed by King’s Horse at the Derby race.

Sep - The terms ‘Convict Supervision Office’, ‘Habitual Criminal Register’ or ‘Fingerprint Department’ are to be replaced by ‘Criminal Record Office’ of which the Fingerprint Branch will be a section (Police Order 20 September 1913).

Dec 15 - Reserve Police discontinued. (Police Order 17 December 1913).


Police starting pay 30 shillings per week (same as postmen).

Special Constables Act. Special Constables may be appointed at any time.

Sir Edward WARD appointed Chief Commandant of the Metropolitan Police Special Constabulary (until 1925).

Police Constable (Naval and Military Service)Act.

Police Reservists (Allowances) Act.

With the outbreak of World War 1 (4 August), 24,000 Special Constables were sworn in and by the end of the year there were 31,000. Annual leave was suspended for the first year of the war.

Nina Boyle advertised in 'The Vote' for women to offer themselves as 'Specials' , when Sir Edward Ward called on the nation for special constables. She also called for recruits to work part time as 'Women Volunteer Police' WVP.

Sir Edward declared only men were suitable, Nina Boyle ignored him and carried on recruiting.

Meanwhile Miss Margaret Damer Dawson, a suffragette - was 'Head of Transport' of a committee formed by Chelsea people, who greeted and helped Belgian refugees escaping from the Germans, she had been involved in an incident whereby a couple of the refugees had been 'spirited' away by 'white slavers', she needed a group of women in uniform - women police in fact. She commenced recruiting 'women police' in September 1914. When she learnt of Nina Boyle's plans, they decided to join forces and Nina became her deputy. They became the ' Women Police Volunteers' WPV.

Metropolitan Police (Employment in Scotland) Act.

First International Police Congress in Monaco.

P.S.V.s (Public Service Vehicles) - 3,000 motor buses, 3,000 electric trams - less than 100 horse trams left, 7,000 motor cabs, 1,300 4 - wheeled Clarence and Growlers, 200 Hansoms.

Defence of the Realm Act.

Aug 8 - War declared on Germany.

Aug - Met assumes responsibility for Rosyth Dockyard in Scotland.


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