Organisation and structure of the Metropolitan Police Service

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Mounted MPS officer outside Buckingham Palace, London

The Metropolitan Police Service of Greater London is organised into four main directorates, each with differing responsibilities. These are Neighbourhood Policing, Specialist Crime & Operations, Specialist Operations and the civilian staffed department of 'Shared Support Services' at Met HQ. Each is overseen by an Assistant Commissioner, or in the case of the support department a number of directors of police staff which is the equivalent civilian grade.

The Management Board, responsible for the strategic direction of the MPS is composed of the senior police leadership including the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, the four Assistant Commissioners (for Specialist Crime & Operations, Neighbourhood Policing, Specialist Operations and Professionalism) and the directors.[1]


The senior leadership rank-holders of the MPS currently are:[2][3]

The highest rank in the MPS is that of the Commissioner, the operational leader; however the MPS is accountable to the newly created Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime on a pan-London basis and the Home Secretary on a national policing basis.

Appointment to the most senior ranks' of Assistant Commissioner and above, are made in consultation with the Mayor of London and the Home Secretary, with the appointment of the Deputy Commissioner and Commissioner being formally made by Her Majesty The Queen.[5]

Neighbourhood Policing[edit]

The Neighbourhood Policing (NP) directorate is commanded by Assistant Commissioner Helen King who is responsible for providing the day-to-day local policing of Greater London, the police area known as the Metropolitan Police District, which is divided into 32 Borough Operational Command Units (BOCUs); with each London borough assigned a BOCU.[6] Each BOCU is commanded by a Chief Superintendent, apart from Westminster which due to its high concentration of Government facilities, is headed by a Commander.

Each BOCU provides police officers (Regular and Specials) who are responsible for patrolling, and responding to emergencies. Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs) are usually made up of both police officers (Regular and Specials) and PCSOs, responsible for policing a specific area within a BOCU. CID detectives are also attached to each BOCU providing an investigative capability.

The Royal Parks Operational Command Unit and the Safer Transport Command both come under the remit of the Assistant Commissioner Neighbourhood Policing.[7][8] The Assistant Commissioner Neighbourhood Policing is a member of the Metropolitan Police's Management Board.

Number of officers per borough[edit]

Each BOCU has the following 'officer establishment' as of the end of February 2014.[9] The two letter code given in brackets for each borough is the identification code for that borough. Every Police Constable and Sergeant of that borough will have those letters on their epaulettes, as part of their shoulder number. [N.B: Special Constables are not counted in these officer figures].

(These officer strength figures only include officers assigned to London Boroughs and do not include those officers assigned to specific team(s) e.g. Central Operations or on assignment with other forces)

Note: numbers of officers for all ranks apart from constable include detectives. See source for full breakdown.

Specialist Crime and Operations[edit]

The Specialist Crime and Operations Directorate was formed by the amalgamation of the Specialist Crime Directorate and Central Operations giving dual responsibility to AC Rowley.[10]

The directorate is headed by Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, three Deputy Assistant Commissioners and a further seven Commanders, and additional civilian staff.[11]

The Specialist Crime and Operations Directorate is made up of nine commands.

Pan London Taskforce[edit]

The Pan London Taskforce covers a variety of specialist units:


Homicide and Major Crime[edit]

Responsible for the investigation of homicide, such as; murder, attempted murder, and infanticide, which are all investigated by Murder Investigation Teams.[12] The Command also investigates missing persons and abduction cases, where there is substantive reason to suspect that life is in danger of being taken, or has been.[12] The Command also includes the; Homicide Task Force, which works to suppress 'man hunts' by members of the public, the Central Criminal Court Trials Unit which deals with gathering evidence and legal liaison with the Crown Prosecution Service. The Special Projects Investigation Unit which deals with other serious crime.[12]

Crime Academy and Review Group[edit]

Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse[edit]

Investigates rape, other serious sexual offences[13] and crimes against minors, mainly, physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The Command has nineteen Child Abuse Investigation Teams covering each borough, aiding local CID detectives, and are in close liaison with Social Services.[14] Within the Command, Major Investigations Teams exist which investigate child homicide, a sexual crime unit, a Hi-Tech Crime Unit which deals with computer investigations, the Safeguarding Children and Development Unit which educates against offences, and deals with after-care of victims, and the Ports Safeguarding Team which monitors London airports to ensure such offenders do not enter the country.[14]

PNC and Vetting Bureau[edit]

Forensic Services[edit]

Responsible for providing an on call, forensic science capability for the 32 Borough Operational Command Units, along with the rest of the Service. Within the Command several smaller units exist, such as; Forensic Investigation Specialist Crime Directorate, which deals with forensic science capabilities on crime scenes that are within the remit of the SCD, such as homicide and armed robberies.[15]

Also responsible for the collection and archiving of fingerprints, made up of people currently living in the UK. Along with providing good clearance certificates to members of the public, who wish to travel to countries that require a good behaviour certificate before they are authorised to enter.[16]

Gangs and Organised Crime[edit]

Responsible for the investigations of serious, organised and life-threatening crimes. The command is made up of the Central Task Force, the Projects Team, the Flying Squad, the Kidnap and Special Investigation Unit, the Hostage and Crisis Negotiations Unit and the Intelligence Support Unit.[17]

Also investigates serious economic crime, through a number of specialist units, such as; the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit, the Money Laundering Investigation Team, Financial Investigation Development Units, the Specialist Crime Operations Team, the Stolen Vehicle Unit, the Arts and Antiques Unit, the Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU), the Wildlife Crime Unit, the Extradition and International Assistance Unit, the Criminal Justice Protection Unit, and the Regional Asset Recovery Team.[18]

Incorporates Operation Trident which tackles gang violence in London.

MPS criminal intelligence gathering operations are also housed within this command.

Specialist Firearms Command (SCO19)[edit]

Specialist Firearms Command or SCO19 (previously SO19 then CO19) is responsible for providing a firearms-response capability, assisting the rest of the service, which is normally unarmed. Within the media it is occasionally compared to the SWAT units of the United States, being seen as London's equivalent.

Specialist Operations[edit]

Specialist Operations (SO) is a directorate of the Service, responsible for providing specialist policing capabilities. Until Sir Kenneth Newman's restructuring of the Metropolitan Police, SO comprised twenty units, but after the restructuring most of them were absorbed by Central Operations.

SO is currently headed by Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, QPM, with two Deputy Assistant Commissioners and a further three Commanders.

Diplomatic Protection Group, ARV. Purchased in red to denote that it does not carry out general policing duties, along with the yellow stickers on the bodywork identifying the vehicle as carrying authorised firearms officers

SO is currently organised into three Commands:

Protection Command[edit]

Split into the following specialist operational areas:

Provides armed personal protection services for ministers and public officials at threat from terrorism, including visiting heads of government and other public figures.
Provides protection of the Monarch and other members of the Royal Family. The OCU is divided into Residential Protection, Personal and Close Protection and the Special Escort Group (SEG) who provide mobile protection.
Provides protection for foreign missions in London, including protecting embassies, and the residences of visiting heads of state, heads of government and ministers.

Protection Command is headed by Commander Peter Loughborough, officially The Right Honourable. Commander The Earl of Rosslyn, QPM.

Counter Terrorism Command (SO15)[edit]

Formed by the merger of Special Branch and the Anti-Terrorist Branch. The priority of this command is to keep the public safe and to ensure that London remains a hostile environment for terrorists. Their responsibilities include: bringing to justice anyone engaged in terrorism or related offences, preventing and disrupting terrorist activity, gathering and exploiting intelligence on terrorism and extremism in London.

The CT Command is currently headed by Commander Richard Walton (currently moved to a non-operational role post-Ellisn review revelations regarding Cmdr Walton's time as an Acting Det Insp. during the 1998 Lawrence murder review.)

Security Command[edit]

Security Command is currently headed by Commander Michael Wood.

Shared Support Services[edit]

  • Customer Contact Services
  • Finance and Reporting
  • Frontline Services
  • Hire to Retire
  • Logistics Services
  • Procurement Operations
  • Referencing and Vetting[19]

Police officer strength by rank[edit]

The following table gives the police strength in the MPS by rank, as of 31 March 2011.[20]

Constables Sergeants Inspectors Ch Inspectors Superintendents Ch Superintendents ACPO rank Total
24,595 5,583 1,503 448 196 81 34 32,441

As of June 2012, there were 40 officers of ACPO rank, namely the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner, in addition to four Assistant Commissioners, ten Deputy Assistant Commissioners and a further 24 Commanders. There were also 14 members of Civilian Staff at the equivalent of Deputy Assistant Commissioner level.[21]

Film Unit[edit]

The MPS Film Unit was launched in 2006 [22] and manages the commercial filming schedule across London on behalf of local councils and major production companies including MGM as well as producers for various film and TV commercials. The Film Unit is based in Southwark and is maintained by current serving police officers. The Film Unit provides operational officers to ensure security for film companies and the general public. It is part of the Film London Partnership which is supported by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, the Mayor Of London and Film London.[23]

Recent film productions requiring the assistance of the Metropolitan Police Service Film Unit
Films Television


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  2. ^
  3. ^ "New Assistant Commissioners' roles announced". 2011-11-01. Retrieved 2011-11-03. 
  4. ^ Lynne Owens is new Surrey Chief Constable, BBC News
  5. ^ "Home Office - police". Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  6. ^ "Metropolitan Police Service – Organisational Structure". Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ (9 April 2014). Freedom of Information request.
  10. ^ "Counter Terrorism Evidence before the Home Affairs Select Committee from AC Cressida Dick: "Mr Rowley is taking on responsibility for both specialist crime and central operations, so we are, in effect, going down by one assistant commissioner. That is a positive decision by the Commissioner to create a different shape of the board".". 2012-01-12. Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  11. ^ "Metropolitan Police Service Leadership Structure, March 2012". Retrieved 2012-03-31. .
  12. ^ a b c "Metropolitan Police Service – Specialist Crime Directorate". Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b "Metropolitan Police Service – Specialist Crime Directorate". Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  15. ^ "Metropolitan Police Service – Specialist Crime Directorate". Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  16. ^ "Metropolitan Police Service – Specialist Crime Directorate". Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  17. ^ "Metropolitan Police Service – Specialist Crime Directorate". Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  18. ^ "Metropolitan Police Service – Specialist Crime Directorate". Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  19. ^ |url= missing title (help). Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Metropolitan Police Service Leadership Structure, June 2012". Retrieved 2012-07-05. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ Policy for Filming in London, Metropolitan Police Service, accessed 25 October 2012