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).


Specialist Operations is made up of three Commands, commanded by Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley.[1]

Protection Command

Protection Command comprises two branches:

RaSP provide personal protection for the Royal Family, the Prime Minister, Government ministers, ambassadors, visiting Heads of State and other individuals deemed to be at risk. RaSP also provide armed security at Royal Residences in London, Windsor and Scotland. The Special Escort Group (SEG) is also operated by RaSP.

PaDP provide armed protection of embassies, missions and the Parliamentary Estate. They also provide residential protection for high-profile Government ministers and are responsible for access control and security at Downing Street and New Scotland Yard.

Security Command

Security Command comprises two units:

Aviation Security Operational Command Unit provides policing and security for Heathrow and London City airports.[2] 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.

The Counter Terrorism Protective Security Command are responsible for ensuring there are adequate protective security measures in place at high-profile events, crowded places and iconic sites. The CTPSC also provide counter terrorism security advice to businesses, schools and places of worship, as well as the wider community in London.

Counter Terrorism Command

The Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) is responsible for protecting London and the rest of the United Kingdom from the threat of terrorism. The Command operates against the threat of terrorism at a local, national and international level, and supports the National Counter Terrorism Network (Regional Counter Terrorism Units and the National Police Chiefs' Council). The Command has the national lead for domestic extremism, and is also responsible for investigating offences committed under the Official Secrets Act, the investigation of war crimes, politically motivated murders and other sensitive national security investigations. It was created in 2006 through the merger of the Met's Anti-Terrorist Branch and Special Branch, and has a staff of 1,500.

Structure prior to April 2015[edit]

Protection Command

Prior to April 2015, Protection Command was split into three units that provides protection for ministers, the royal family, and foreign embassies, diplomats, and visiting dignitaries:

  • Specialist Protection (SO1) – Provided armed personal protection services for ministers, and public officials at threat from terrorism, including visiting heads of government and other public figures. In April 2015, it was merged with Royalty Protection, to form Royalty and Specialist Protection (RaSP).
  • Royalty Protection (SO14) – Provided 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. In April 2015, it was merged with Specialist Protection, to form Royalty and Specialist Protection (RaSP).
  • Diplomatic Protection Group (SO6) – Provided protection for foreign missions in London, including protecting embassies, and the residences of visiting heads of state, heads of government and ministers. In April 2015, it was merged with the Palace of Westminster Division, to form Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection (PaDP).
Security Command

Prior to April 2015, the Security Command consisted 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.[3]

  • Palace of Westminster Division (SO17) – Was responsible for the protection of the Houses of Parliament, and consisted of a team of 500 people.[4] Officers were unarmed. In April 2015, it was merged with the Diplomatic Protection Group, to form Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection (PaDP).
  • Aviation Security Operational Command Unit (SO18) – Remained unchanged.
  • Counter Terrorism Protective Security Command (SO20) – Remained unchanged.
Counter Terrorism Command

Counter Terrorism Command (SO15) has remained unchanged.

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]


  1. ^ "Home | The Met". Content.met.police.uk. Retrieved 2017-03-23. 
  2. ^ Metropolitan Police
  3. ^ Metropolitan Police: Security Command Linked 2015-02-27
  4. ^ Craig Harrison. "Protection Command". Eliteukforces.info. Retrieved 2017-03-23. 

External links[edit]