Victorian London - Police and Policing - Metropolitan Police - Duties and Organisation

By the establishment of the police upon its present plan, in 1829, Sir Robert Peel has very materially improved the peace establishment, and largely contributed to the preservation of order in the metropolis. This fine body of men form an extremely useful and effective force; they are constantly on duty in all parts of the metropolis (the City alone excepted), and in the environs, both day and night; alike ready for the protection of property, and prevention of tumult; their services at night are most particularly valuable, as affording great assistance in cases of fire, by the rapidity with which they assemble the engines and force of the fire brigade, and other establishments, and in securing the immediate attendance of turncocks, with a supply of water, for its suppression. The police force is placed under the control of three commissioners, at whose office, in Scotland Yard, Whitehall, com plaint may be made upon the occurrence of any misconduct on their part; the jurisdiction of the commissioners, however, does not extend beyond this, all other cases being disposed of by the magistrates. 

Mogg's New Picture of London and Visitor's Guide to it Sights, 1844

The Metropolitan Police force consists of 6295 men; the City Police Force (under its own Commissioner) of 608 men; in all, 6903. The average yearly expenditure is 528,000l., provided for by an assessment of 8d. in the pound, on the parish rates. The Metropolitan Police Force is distributed into twenty-two divisions, denoted by the letters A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K,L,M,N,P,R,S,V,W,X,Y,Z. They wear a plain blue uniform, with their number and the letter of the division on the coat-collar. When on duty, each policeman is distinguished by a blue-and-white striped cuff, and is furnished with a baton, a rattle, a lantern, an oil-skin cape, and a long great-coat. He receives from 14s. to 22s. per week, with an allowance of coals and candles; and his hours of duty average twelve daily. During two months out of three, each policeman is on night-duty (from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.). After a certain probation, the Constable is promoted to Sergeant, Sergeant to Inspector, Inspector to Superintendent; receiving, of course, additional pay.

Cruchley's London in 1865 : A Handbook for Strangers, 1865

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Police.—The police force of London comprises the Metropolitan Police and the City Police. The latter have jurisdiction in the city of London proper, covering about 1 square mile, and consisting of 8oo men. The Metropolitan Police District extends to a radius of about 15 miles from Charing-cross, and covers more than 700 square miles. The force consists of about 11,100 men divided into 20 divisions. Each sergeant and constable bears the letter of his division and number on his collar, which should be taken down if any complaint has to be preferred. Within a reasonable distance of nearly every house in a populous district there is, besides the local police-station, a fixed police point (see FIXED POINTS), at which a constable may always be found from 9 am to 1 a.m. If the constable at the fixed point be called away on special duty, his place is taken by the first patrol who arrives at the vacant place. Every householder should learn where is the nearest police-station and fixed point. If police assistance be required on some special occasion, such as a party, personal or written application should be made to the superintendent of the division on which the ground is situated. Such duty is done by men in their own time, and from 5s. to 10s. is generally given by the person interested.
SPECIAL DUTIES.—The following questions have also been submitted to the Metropolitan Police Department, and have received the annexed replies:
Whether when application is made at a station for a married constable to take charge of an empty — furnished — house, any and what responsibility is undertaken by the department, and what are the general terms and conditions on which such applications are entertained?
Police sergeants or constables are permitted by the commissioner to take charge of unoccupied furnished houses on the recommendation of the superintendent of the division, provided they have undivided care; that no servants remain; and that there are no valuables or plate therein. No responsibility whatever is undertaken by the police department. There are no other set terms or conditions. If the man’s wife is employed to keep the house clean, it becomes a matter of arrangement between the parties. Sergeants and constables are allowed by the divisional superintendents to occupy unfurnished houses, or houses that have not been inhabited, provided they are reported, on inspection, as not likely to be prejudicial to the health of the officer.
Whether the police on ordinary night duty are allowed to be made available for calling private individuals in time for early trains, &c.?
The police are not only allowed, but are taught that they are bound to render this or any other service in their power to the inhabitants; and any neglect is considered a breach of duty, and dealt with accordingly.
Whether any arrangement is practicable—short of hiring a special constable—by which a house can safely be left empty for a few hours?
Certainly not. The custom unfortunately is a very prevalent one, notwithstanding numerous official cautions, and a large number of offences are traceable to it, as it affords every facility for thieves and housebreakers.

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879