Friends of the

Metropolitan Police History

Time Zone: 1915 - 1929


DC Alfred YOUNG, (Wt No 88266) Special Branch, shot dead while attempting to execute an arrest warrant at Hampstead.

Women typists, shorthand typists and clerks employed by the Metropolitan Police.

In February, Margaret Damer Dawson and Nina Boyle argued over the WPV being used to police a curfew enforced against women. A vote was taken, Boyle was defeated. Damer Dawson decided to drop the name 'Women Police Volunteers' and reformed the group as the 'Women Police Service' WPS. Later they became the Women’s Auxiliary Service.

Meanwhile another group who wanted to protect women and young girls from white slavery and restrain their behaviour in and around military camps called for 'women police. 'Voluntary Women Patrols' VWP The main organisation was the 'National Union of Women Workers' - a less militant group, their President Mrs Creighton, was the widow of the bishop of London. They later changed their name to the 'National Council of Women' who then organised the 'Special Patrols'.

Mrs Edith Smith of WPS took over the women police in the area of Grantham. The Chief Constable, with the permission of the Town Council and Watch Committee had her sworn in and given power of arrest. The first official policewoman in the British Isles.

The London Ambulance Service began operation, taking over some of the duties originally performed by the Metropolitan Police. However, police in this year conveyed over 11,000 people to hospital.

Jan 1 - Ten persons killed and 500 injured at Ilford station when local Gidea Park to Liverpool Street train struck by Clacton to Liverpool Street express.

Apr - New Shooters Hill Police Station opened replacing earlier Victorian building (c 1858).

May - First Zeppelin raids over London.

Aug 13 - George Joseph SMITH executed (Brides in the bath murders).

Nov - Women ‘Clippies’ employed on London buses as conductors.


Aliens registration by police. Creation of Aliens Registration Office.

Women patrols from National Union of Women Workers and Women’s Auxiliary Service.

Police, Factories (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act.

Rosyth added to Dockyard Division.

Feb - Barnet Police Station opened.

Royal Star and Garter Home opened at Richmond.

Mar - Edmonton Police Station opened.

May - William Willets Daylight Saving Bill Became Law - clocks go forward for the first time.

Aug 3 - Sir Roger CASEMENT executed at Pentonville for treason.

Aug - Hornsey Police Station opened.

Sep - PC 147 ‘F’ Harold RICKETTS drowned at Teignmouth whilst rescuing a drowning boy.

Nov - The Commissioner, Sir Edward HENRY, signed a Police Order stating that any member of the Metropolitan Police rendered himself liable to dismissal by joining a union.


During this year, 2,300 members of the Metropolitan Police were serving in the armed forces.

Jan 19 - 82 killed in Silvertown munitions factory explosion, including Pc 389K George Greenoff.

Mar - Dartmoor Prison closed down by order of War Office.

Mrs Sofia Stanley was appointed Supervisor of 'Special Patrols'

There were 37 Special Patrols in London at this time, working two nights a week.

By the end of 1917 London had 55 full time Special Patrols.

Confusion and conflict in the different approaches arose between the women police groups - the WPS being more militant.

March - New London Postal District numbers introduced for the first time.

Apr 24 - Old Bailey Sessions opened without usual ceremony in summoning Grand Jury.


Metropolitan Police pay increased by 13 shillings to 53 shillings per week.

Sir John Fitzgerald MOYLAN appointed Receiver.

Superintendents OLIVE and BILLINGS promoted to Chief Constables in charge of Districts.

Metropolitan Police Act.

Representation of the People Act - gave votes for women over age of 30.

Aug - Police strike - 6,203 men.

Portland Town renamed St Johns Wood

Sep - Commissioner, Sir Edward HENRY resigned as result of police strike. Succeeded by General Sir Nevil MACREADY.

Sep 2 - Police Pensions Act. Pensions granted to policemen’s widows.

Oct - Mobile Squad of 12 Detective officers created (later, in 1920, to be known as the ‘Flying Squad’).

Daily Mail reported that an officially recognised force of women were to be appointed under the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police (3 October).

Nov 11 - Armistice Day.

Dec 23 - 23rd December - Police Orders sets out the qualifications and conditions for the new 'Metropolitan Police Women Patrols'. The Monday after Christmas the first group of women began training at Beak Street Section House.


‘The Big Four’ - Superintendents in charge of C.I.D. - Albert HAWKINS, Arthur Neil, Francis CARLIN and Frederick WENSLEY.

Police Act - Standardisation of pay and conditions.

Desborough Committee on Police Conditions of Service.

PC Thomas Eldred Briggs ROWLAND, died from a fractured skull after being assaulted while attempting an arrest in Walworth.

Metropolitan Police Office divided into departments and branches. Commissioner’s Office - ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ , ‘D’ and ‘S’ (see ‘From Quills to Computers’ by Norman Fairfax).

Ministry of Transport created.

London and Home Counties Traffic Advisory Committee created.

Feb 17 - Women Police established in London when the first Metropolitan Police Women Patrols came into service. Establishment 110. Strength 110. The first batch were recruited from the ' Special Patrols', although many in the second batch were from the WPS. Mrs Sofia Stanley, Superintendent in charge. Assisted by Mrs Elinor Robinson. The first three sergeants made immediately - were Grace Russell, Patty Alliot and Lilian Wyles. London was divided into three and each was given a section. They had a contract for a year, as an experiment.

Traffic Branch created. Responsible for traffic matters - aerial, vehicular or pedestrian.

NARPO formed - National Association Association of Retired Police Officers.

Metropolitan Police Athletic Association formed.

Rank of Deputy Commissioner and Deputy Assistant Commissioner introduced.

Eight-hour tour of duty introduced, replacing the two tours of four hours each.

Feb 15 - Rank of Deputy Assistant Commissioner introduced, with the appointment of Lt Col Percy Robert LAURIE.

Jun 17 - SPS 87 ‘V’ DivisionThomas GREEN (Wt No 80417), struck on the head and killed by a mob of Canadian soldiers attempting to free Canadian soldier prisoner in the Epsom Police Station siege.

Jul - Police strike - 1,089 men involved.

Oct 1 - Police Federation formed, representing Constables, Sergeants and Inspectors.

Nov 11 - Silver identification token issued to senior officers (Police Order 11 November 1919).


Imber Court Mounted Training Establishment and Sports Club opened.

Mobile Detective Squad to be known as the Flying Squad formed. First cars purchased in September - two ex RFC Crossley tenders. Det Insp Hambrook in charge.

Electric Lantern superseded the old ‘Bullseye’ (oil).

PC 412 ‘T’ Division James KELLY (Wt No 101800) shot three times and killed while pursuing a burglar he had disturbed at Acton.

Dangerous Drugs Act passed to counteract rising problem of drug trafficking.

Firearms Act.

First motor cycles - Douglas 2.75 solo.

Apr - Commissioner, General, Sir Nevil MACREADY left to rejoin the army.

Apr 20 - Brigadier General Sir William HORWOOD appointed Commissioner.

Nov 9 - Motor vans started to replace horse-drawn prison vehicles in the Metropolitan Police District.

Nov 11 - Cenotaph unveiled by King George V.


Temporary Police Box erected in Trafalgar Square.

British left Eire.

Police Pensions Act.

R 38 Zeppelin crashed.

The Police Pensions Act came into force, fixing an age limit for each rank at which retirement would be compulsory.

Feb 28 - ‘Z’ Division (Croydon) established with Headquarters at Fell Road Police Station.

Mar - Station Sergeant’s four-bar chevron replaced by three-bar chevron and small Tudor crown.

Nov 30 - Sir Basil THOMSON (Assistant Commissioner) resigned. Sir Wyndham CHILDS appointed.


County Hall opened.

Jun 29 - The Geddes Axe - Women Police Establishment cut by Parliament from 112 to 20. Mr. Shortt M.P. said in the House of Commons that Policemen’s wives could do Women Police Work. Lady Astor retorted Police did not choose their wives for patrolling streets or escorting prisoners.

Wireless communication with patrol cars, giving contact with Scotland Yard

Commissioner HORWOOD admitted that many of the men taken into the force in 1919 to replace strikers and those in the armed forces had given trouble due to neglecting their beats and drunkenness.

The Commissioner also commented on the growth in consumption of methylated spirits, with 80 convictions during the year.

Lloyd George’s Coalition government ended.

Aug - Public Carriage Office licence the first independent omnibus in London. Known as the ‘Chocolate Express’ it ran on Route 11.

Nov 14 - Broadcasting from ‘2LO’ commenced.

Dec 1 - Sir James OLIVE appointed Deputy Commissioner.


Second International Criminal Police Congress, in Vienna, creating an International Police Commission with HQ in Vienna.

First Wembley Football Cup Final led to major crowd problems. PC George SCOREY (Wt No 107832) on white horse, ‘Billy’, averted a disaster when crowd over-ran the pitch.

Special Constables Act.

Women first attested and given power of arrest. They were to be sworn in as ‘constables’ Establishment increased to 50.

Metropolitan Police Rugby Football Club formed.

Jan 9 - Frederick BYWATERS and Edith THOMPSON hanged for murder of her husband, Percy


British Empire Exhibition at Wembley. Temporary police station opened at the South Institute, Wembley.

London Traffic Act - London Traffic Area - London and Home Counties Traffic Advisory Committee. Roundabouts and Parking plans. Co-ordination of closing streets for repair.

General election - First Labour Government.

Report by Sub-Committee of Police Council on Police Rent Allowance.

Report by Committee on Standard Conditions of Service for Police (Chairman, Lord DESBOROUGH).

The Commissioner explained in his Annual Report how the social status of a Metropolitan Police Officer had been raised due to his conditions of employment.

First motor-cycle combinations - Triumph and Chater Lea.

In Egypt, Sydney Smith identifies a gun which fired a bullet because of a unique marking on the gun's barrel.


Criminal Justice Act.

Report by the Sub Committee of Police Council on Standard Conditions of Service for Police.

Report by the Sub Committee of Police Council on Pay of constables in initial years of service.

Report by Committee on Temporary Deductions from Police Pay and allowances and rateable deductions for pensions.

The Metropolitan Police begin to withdraw from policing dockyards (including Rosyth, Pembroke and Deptford Dockyards) and War Department stations.

Assistant Commissioner Sir James OLIVE retired after 53 years service.

Nine Elms Police Station opened.

Jan - Sir Walter ALLEN appointed Chief Commandant of the Metropolitan Police Special Constabulary (until 1943).

Aug 6 - Report of Enquiry on arrest of Major R. O. SHEPPARD.


Police Pensions Act - deductions increased from 2.5% - 5%.

Traffic Superintendent, A. E. BASSOM died.

Attempt to assassinate Commissioner HORWOOD with poisoned chocolates.

Mar - Norwood Police Station renamed Gipsy Hill.

May - General Strike.

Emergency Powers Act.

Enrolment of many Special Constables.

Transport volunteers.

‘Times’ fund for the police.

Sep - Northern Line ‘Tube’ extended from Clapham Common to Morden.

LCC Tramways reach Downham Estate, Catford.

Dec - Woolwich Dockyard Division disbanded.

Abbey Wood Police Station closed.

Dec 20 - Lost Property Office transferred to Lambeth.


Goodwood Racecourse bribery case.

Police Appeals Act - right of appeal to Home Secretary.

Liverpool Police Bribery Case.

Jan - PC DAINTY shot by Edgar SMITH at Newark.

Jan 31 - Public Carriage Office transferred to Lambeth.

May - Raid on Arcos Ltd (Communist).

Sep 27 - PC 218 GUTTERIDGE murdered at Stapleford Abbotts by BROWNE and KENNEDY. Use of comparison microscope and first occasion in Britain where a bullet was traced to a particular firearm.

Nov - South End Village police station replaces Catford Hill.

Oscar SLATER pardoned and released (Imprisoned since 1909).


PS GODDARD bribery case.

Royal Commission on Police Powers and Procedure (Chairman Lord LEE).

Hand ambulances withdrawn.

Policy of cautioning in motoring offences instituted.

Norman KENDALL appointed Assistant Commissioner.

Women over 21, rather than 30 given the vote, making the system equal with men.

Jan 7 - Thames Flooded.

May - Miss SAVIDGE case - enquiry into interrogation by the Metropolitan Police.

Nov - Committee on Street Offences (Chairman MacMILLAN).

Nov 6 - Commissioner, Sir William HORWOOD retired (ill-health) Succeeded by Lord BYNG of VIMY.


Report by the Royal Commission on Police Powers and Procedure.

Large number of men posted to Motor Patrol work: 4 Sub-Divisional Inspectors, 31 Sergeants and 324 Constables.

Apr - Metropolitan Police withdrawn from Sheerness Dockyard.

May 27 - Centenary of the Metropolitan Police celebrated with a parade in Hyde Park and inspection by the Prince of Wales. The Women Police strength was 47 uniform and 2 CID.

The Home Secretary authorised 100 women police posts, a strength not achieved until 1938.

Jun - Imber Court Sports Ground opened by Prince of Wales.

Aug - PC 286 ‘S’ Division John Arthur SELF (Wt No 95455) violently struck to the ground by man (Harry HOLMAN) he was questioning in Golders Green.

Nov 29 - The Police Box system commenced on an experimental basis in Richmond and Wood Green. (Police Order 29 November 1929).


Friends of the Metropolitan Police Historical Collection

38 Wincanton Road

Noak Hill



  • Email

    Email Us
  • Registered Charity Number: 1167839