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Anyone who’s spent more than a passing moment in London has seen “bobbies” in their distinctive hats and firearm-free uniforms.

But few realize the history behind the New Scotland Yard, the police force responsible for the majority of Europe’s largest city.

Sir Robert Peeler organized the initial force in 1829 after convincing the British parliament that a more robust police force was needed to curb crime and disorder in the teeming capital.

The force called itself Scotland Yard because its headquarters backed onto a street with the same name. When it moved, it took on the name New Scotland Yard, which it carries today.

The initial force consisted of eight superintendents, 20 inspectors, 88 sergeants and 895 constables who were paid, depending on their rank, between three shillings a day and 200 pounds a year, according to the Metropolitan Police Web site.

A shilling is an extinct measure of currency that equaled 12 pence. A pound was 20 shillings.

The initial force was far less robust and disciplined than today’s Metropolitan Police as roughly 51 percent of the force was relieved of duty in the early months of the force, the majority for being drunk on duty, according to the Web site.

And the public was less than enthusiastic about the new bobbies on the beat. Jurors returned justified homicide verdicts in a trial of those accused of killing two officers in the line of duty, according to the Web site.

The Met, as it is known in London speak, has evolved tremendously since its inception.

Today it has more than 31,000 officers, 13,600 staff, 414 traffic wardens and 2,100 police community support officers who cover 620 square miles with a population of 7.2 million people.

According to its most recent annual report, the Met responded to approximately 920,000 incidents in its last year of reporting, a 9 percent drop from two years ago.

Got a question about something you’ve seen or heard around the United Kingdom? E-mail us at: uknews@estripes.osd.mil

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