Specialist Operations

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Specialist Operations is a directorate of the Metropolitan Police. At its peak, SO was a group of twenty specialist units, which were formed to give the Metropolitan Police a specialist policing capability. The SO designation was implemented in 1986 as part of Sir Kenneth Newman's restructuring of the Metropolitan Police Service. Most of the units designated SO units were already in existence, many of them as departments of C Division and its branches, and all were presided over by an Assistant Commissioner of Special Operations (ACSO).

Current structure[edit]

Specialist Operations is made up of three Commands, commanded by Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick.

Protection Command[edit]

Protection Command is split into three units that provide protection for ministers, the royal family and foreign embassies, diplomats and visiting dignitaries:

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.

Security Command[edit]

The Security Command consists of three units that provide protection of the Parliament and the two airports within Greater London (Heathrow Airport and City of London Airport), and organise security for major events in London.[1]

Responsible for the protection of the Houses of Parliament. It consists of a team of 500 people and its officers are not armed.[2]
Provides policing and security for Heathrow and London City airports.[3] London's other airports, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton are policed by Sussex, Essex and the Bedfordshire Police respectively, as they are not located in the Metropolitan Police District.
This command is mainly tasked with planning and advising. It plans the security for major events in London and has specialist search teams that carry out searches of key locations before big events. It also has a group of Counter Terrorism Security Advisors (CTSAs) who provide counter-terrorism advice to businesses in London, and also handles the Project Griffin terrorist awareness activities within the Metropolitan Police District.

Counter Terrorism Command[edit]

The Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) is a counter-terrorism investigative unit that was created in 2006 through the merger of the Met's Anti-Terrorist Branch and Special Branch. It is tasked with protecting London and the UK from the threat of terrorism through intelligence gathering, analysis, investigations and operational support activities. It has a staff of 1,500.

Historical structure[edit]

Due to continual restructuring of the Metropolitan Police, only a few of the original SO units still exist in their original form and still use the SO designation. Where the SO designation has been reassigned to another unit, the units are listed in order

See also[edit]


External links[edit]