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The structure of policing in London

The organisational structure of The Met

The Metropolitan Police Service is a large organisation with a complex command structure that reflects the diverse range of tasks it is expected to undertake. This page attempts to give a brief introduction to the main elements of The Met together with links that will take you to more detailed information.

Territorial Policing: "London's local police"

Following a recent restructuring, most of the day-to-day policing of London is the responsibility of 33 borough operational command units (BOCUs). You can find out more about these units in the section on Local Policing. Also part of Territorial policing are certain pan-London units.

Specialist Crime Directorate

The Specialist Crime Directorate consists of three groups: Forensic Services, Intelligence and Serious Crime Group and the Business Services Group. This new streamlined approach to tackling serious and organised crime across the capital allows the Specialist Crime Directorate to make a unique and significant contribution toward making London the safest major city in the world.

Specialist Operations

The Met has various specialist units that work across the capital or which fulfill a national role.

A number of these are grouped into a section of the organisation known as Specialist Operations. They deal with tasks such as intelligence, security, protection of politicians, embassies and royalty, and the investigation of certain categories of serious crimes, including racial and violent crime and terrorism.

Other specialist or pan-London units

There are various other specialist units that are not part of Specialist Operations. They include Traffic, Air Support, Public Order, Mounted Branch and Thames Division, which polices London's main waterway.

Administration and support

An organisation the size of the Metropolitan Police Service could not function without various management, administration and support functions. For this reason The Met has thousands of staff, including police officers as well as civilians, who work behind the scenes to ensure that the front line units can do their job. Their functions include recruitment, training, personnel management, provision of information technology, publicity and communications. Some functions, such as vehicle maintenance and aspects of information technology and telecommunications, have been contracted out to the private sector.

Other London police forces

The Met works in conjunction with neighbouring forces but has particularly close relationships with the other forces that police in London:

In addition, The Met works in conjunction with the other emergency services. The following links provide information on some of those services:

The Met's rank structure

The rank structure of Metropolitan Police officers is as follows:

  • Commissioner
  • Deputy Commissioner
  • Assistant Commissioner
  • Deputy Assistant Commissioner
  • Commander
  • Chief Superintendent
  • Superintendent
  • Chief Inspector
  • Inspector
  • Sergeant
  • Constable

The prefix "detective" is given to officers who have been assigned to investigative work after completing the appropriate selection and training. Detective ranks parallel uniformed ranks and range from Detective Constable to Detective Chief Superintendent.

Civilian staff

The Met's civilian staff has a structure similar to that for civil servants working in government departments. However numbered grades, which would be familiar to civil servants, have recently been replaced by a more flexible system based on pay bands and specific job descriptions.


Territorial Policing The Commissioner Specialist Operations Pan-London units The Deputy Commissioner Policy Review and Standards Resources Personnel