This material has been taken from the Metropolitan Police Historical Collection (MPHC): it has been chosen to represent the type of material that would be available in a working police station. Not only is the Metropolitan Police Force, founded in 1829, the largest force in the country covering all of the Greater London geographical area but excluding the City of London, it is arguably the most important force in that it has responsibility for providing the security for statesmen, the Royal Family, visiting foreign heads of state and dignitaries, and for collating material for, and publishing and distributing to all forces on a daily basis, the Police Gazette detailing information on known and wanted criminals.

Every police force will have a headquarters building, usually located close to the county town in the case of a county force or the centre of its operational area in the case of a metropolitan force such as Manchester or London. In addition to providing administrative facilities, the headquarters will be home to specialist facilities and units such as forensic science, photographic unit, dog handlers, under-water team, armed response officers, etc. The area covered by each force is usually broken down into a number of smaller areas called divisions, each having a Divisonal Station or Headquarters under the supervision of a Superintendent reporting to the Chief Constable, or Commander reporting to the Commissioner in the case of the Metropolitan Police, and a number of 'local' police stations.

The selected material relates to a number of different divisions within the Metropolitan Police Force and does not, therefore, constitute an integrated set of documents that can be cross-referenced one with another. A general introduction is given to each topic, with a brief description for each document. Otherwise supporting narrative is kept to a minimum to give the reader the experience of discovering for him- or herself the detail contained in the documents.

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