City of London Police
- Date Established:
The City of London Police force is responsible for the safety of everyone in London's 'Square Mile'. There are some 7,000 residents in the City of London, and a daily influx of around 350,000 commuters and 300,000 vehicles in addition to tourists.
The 1839 City of London Police Act formally established the force. Initially based at the Corporation of London's Guildhall, its headquarters moved to Old Jewry in 1842. The first commissioner was responsible for some 500 men. Until the 1930s, serving officers were required to live within two miles of the City.
The City Police Hospital was founded on the site of the current Bishopsgate police station in 1865. It provided care for serving officers for over 80 years until the introduction of the National Health Service in 1947.
A City Police Ambulance service was introduced in 1907. Call boxes were sited throughout the City and uniformed officers manned a new electrically powered ambulance. This service was disbanded with the establishment of the London Ambulance Service in 1949, however the force's tradition of community care continued. In 1996, City Police officers became the first in Britain to be trained to use portable defibrillators to help treat heart-attack victims.
Between 1930 and 1932, manually operated traffic lights were introduced at Ludgate Circus. Europe's first automatic traffic lights were soon installed at the junction of Cornhill and Bishopsgate to manage the increasing volume of traffic. The force acquired its first two patrol cars in 1937.
Many City Police officers volunteered for the armed forces during the First World War. Those who remained were assisted by the City of London Police Reserve, which included many Special Constables. Twenty-six officers were killed on active service in the armed forces.
During the Second World War, the Police Reserve again assisted the City Police. War Reserves, men over the age of 25 who wished to serve in the police rather than in the armed forces, also strengthened their numbers. Thirty-three officers were killed on active service in the armed forces.
The City was heavily bombed during the Blitz. All four police stations in the Square Mile received direct hits; the Moor Lane station was completely destroyed.
In the post-war years, the force strength fell by one third. In 1947, new recruits included one woman police sergeant and six women police constables. The force appointed its first woman of chief police officer rank in 1995. Commander Judy Davidson became one of only half a dozen nationwide at that time.
The force was restructured in 1983. The number of divisions was reduced from three to two, and bases were at Snow Hill and Bishopsgate. Civilians were recruited to former police posts.
In 1993, the Corporation of London implemented its City Traffic and Environmental Zone. As well as improving the street environment, the 'ring of steel' gave the force a surveillance capability. It was one response to the terrorist bombs of the early 1990s.
The zone was enlarged in 1997. That year, the force introduced an Automatic Number Plate Recognition system at the zone's perimeter. The first of its kind in the world, the system automatically checks vehicle number plates against police databases and alerts operators if a match is made.
City officers have been involved in a number of well-known cases. Early incidents include the discovery of Jack the Ripper's only City of London victim, Catherine Eddowes, in Mitre Square in 1888, and the infamous Siege of Sidney Street in January 1911.
City officers were the first on the scene of the 1975 Moorgate train crash in which 43 passengers were killed and many more seriously injured. In 1973, 1992 and 1993, terrorist bombs exploded at the Old Bailey, St Mary Axe and Bishopsgate, causing extensive damage and loss of life.
By the early 21st century, some 1,200 people worked for the City of London Police with half of them based at the Snow Hill and Bishopsgate police stations. One third of all employees were civilian support staff, performing a wide range of professional, administrative and some operational support roles.
- City Police
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