History of the Metropolitan Police
Sir Robert Peel
Home Secretary and founder of the Metropolitan Police. Born in Bury, Lancashire, and educated at Harrow and Oxford. MP for Cashel, 1809, Under-Secretary for War and the Colonies 1810-12. Chief Secretary for Ireland 1812-18. MP for Oxford University 1817. Home Secretary 1822-7. Home Secretary and Leader of the House of Commons 1828-30. Prime Minister 1834-5 and 1841-6. As Home Secretary in 1822 he set up a select committee to consider the state of the existing police offices, watchmen, constables and Bow Street Patrols, and began to contemplate some form of centralisation.
By 1826 he was outlining a plan for six police districts to cover a 16 km (10 mile) radius from St Paul's, excluding the City of London. In 1828 (with a Prime Minister sympathetic to the idea of a disciplined quasi-military police force in London) he began drafting the Metropolitan Police Bill of 1829. He appointed Col. Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne to establish the force as much as they saw fit. On 20 July he approved the establishment of a force of 895 constables, 88 sergeants, 20 inspectors and 8 superintendents.
Sir Richard Mayne, Joint Commissioner Peel stressed that the principal duty of the police was to be crime prevention (rather than detection.) The nicknames 'Peelers' and 'Bobbies' were uncomplimentary results of his decision to make the force directly responsible to himself in the Home Office.
Peel's proposal that senior uniformed ranks should be filled from below and not brought in from the higher social classes has been followed to this day. Peel himself said that he accepted low pay for the men as he did not want any policeman feeling superior to the job or his colleagues. Sir Robert Peel is commemorated in the MPS by the training schools' names (first Peel House, now Peel Centre); by a bronze statue acquired by the Hendon training school in 1873 and by a marble bust displayed in the Historical Museum.