Commonly known as the "Met", the Metropolitan Police Service is responsible for law enforcement within Greater London, excluding the square mile of the City of London, which is covered by the City of London Police. The London Underground and national rail network are the responsibility of the British Transport Police. The Metropolitan Police was formed by Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel with the implementation of the Metropolitan Police Act, passed by Parliament in 1829. Peel, with the help of Eugène-François Vidocq, selected the original site at 4 Whitehall Place for the new police headquarters. The first two Commissioners, Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne, along with various police officers and staff, occupied the building. Previously a private house, 4 Whitehall Place backed onto a street called Great Scotland Yard.
By 1887, The Met headquarters had expanded from 4 Whitehall Place into several neighboring addresses, including 3, 5, 21 and 22 Whitehall Place; 8 and 9 Great Scotland Yard, and several stables. Eventually, the service outgrew its original site, and new headquarters were built on the Victoria Embankment, overlooking the River Thames, south of what is now known as the Ministry of Defence HQ. In 1890, police headquarters moved to the new location, which was named New Scotland Yard. By this time, the Metropolitan Police had grown from its initial 1,000 officers to about 13,000 and needed more administrative staff and a bigger headquarters. Further increases in the size and responsibilities of the force required even more administrators, and in 1907 and 1940, New Scotland Yard was extended further. This complex is now grade I listed and known as the Norman Shaw Buildings. In 1888, during construction, workers discovered the dismembered torso of a female, believed to have been a victim of the Whitechapel murders perpetrated by "Jack the Ripper"; the case aka the "Whitehall Mystery" has never been solved.
The original building at 4 Whitehall Place still has a rear entrance on Great Scotland Yard. Stables for some of the Metropolitan Police Mounted Branch are still located at 7 Great Scotland Yard, across the street from the first headquarters.
By the 1960s the requirements of modern technology and further increases in the size of the force meant that it had outgrown its Victoria Embankment headquarters. In 1967 New Scotland Yard moved to the present building at 10 Broadway, still within Westminster, which was an existing office block acquired under a long-term lease; the first New Scotland Yard is now called the Norman Shaw (North) building, part of which is used as the headquarters for the Metropolitan Police's Territorial Policing department.
Scotland Yard's telephone number was originally Whitehall 1212, which became famous. Most London area police stations and Scotland Yard itself still have 1212 as their last four digits.
The Metropolitan Police senior management team, who oversee the service, is based at New Scotland Yard, along with the Met's crime database. This uses a national IT system developed for major crime enquiries by all UK forces, called Home Office Large Major Enquiry System, more commonly referred to by its acronym, HOLMES (which recognises the great fictional detective Sherlock Holmes). The training program is called "Elementary", after Holmes's well-known, yet apocryphal, phrase "elementary, my dear Watson". Administrative functions are based at the Empress State Building, and communication handling at the three Metcall complexes, rather than at Scotland Yard.
A number of security measures were added to the exterior of New Scotland Yard during the 2000s, including concrete barriers in front of ground-level windows as a countermeasure against car bombing, a concrete wall around the entrance to the building, and a covered walkway from the street to the entrance into the building. Armed officers from the Diplomatic Protection Group patrol the exterior of the building along with security staff.
On 30 May 1884, during the Fenian bombing campaign of 1883 to 1885, an anonymous letter was sent threatening to bomb Scotland Yard and all other government buildings in Central London. On the night of 30 May an explosive device was placed on a urinal outside Scotland Yard, and later detonated causing severe damage to the CID and Special Irish Branch offices. Later the same night another bomb exploded outside a club in what used to be Sir Watkin Wynn's house, and another was found placed at Nelson's Column.
Scotland Yard has become internationally famous as a symbol of policing, and detectives from Scotland Yard feature in many works of crime fiction. They were frequent allies — and sometimes antagonists — of Sherlock Holmes in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous stories (see, for instance, Inspector Lestrade). It is also referred to in Around the World in Eighty Days.
Many novelists have adopted fictional Scotland Yard detectives as the heroes or heroines of their stories. John Creasey's stories featuring George Gideon are amongst the earliest police procedurals. Commander Adam Dalgliesh, created by P. D. James, and Inspector Richard Jury, created by Martha Grimes are notable recent examples. A somewhat more improbable example is Baroness Orczy's aristocratic female Scotland Yard detective Molly Robertson-Kirk, known as Lady Molly of Scotland Yard. Agatha Christie's numerous mystery novels often referenced Scotland Yard, most notably in her Hercule Poirot series.
During the 1930s, there was a short-lived pulp magazine called variously Scotland Yard, Scotland Yard Detective Stories or Scotland Yard International Detective, which, despite the name, concentrated more on lurid crime stories set in the United States than anything to do with the Metropolitan Police.
Scotland Yard was the name of a series of cinema second features made between 1953 and 1961. Introduced by Edgar Lustgarten, each episode featured a dramatised reconstruction of a 'true crime' story. Filmed at Merton Park Studios, many of the episodes featured Russell Napier as Inspector Duggan. The series was succeeded by The Scales of Justice, which dealt with a similar theme. In the comedy series Batman, the caped crusaders in England meet members of "Ireland Yard"- clearly a spoof of Scotland Yard. Scotland Yard is briefly mentioned in the opening of the second act of Broadway musical Jekyll & Hyde in the song entitled "Murder, Murder", about the catching of a murderer.
In the James Bond novels and short stories by Ian Fleming and others, Assistant Commissioner Sir Ronald Vallance is a recurring fictional character who works for Scotland Yard. Gala Brand, who works for Ronnie Vallance at Scotland Yard, is featured in the 1955 novel Moonraker.
Fabian of the Yard was a television series filmed and transmitted by the BBC between 1954 and 1956, based upon the career of the by then retired Detective Inspector Robert Fabian. It focused on the subject of forensic science, which at the time was in its infancy. Fabian usually appeared in a cameo shot towards the end of each episode.