London is a city packed with adventure, from its historical architecture to its modern day attractions, the British capital is filled with things to do and sights to see.
Although London is a very safe place, like in any big city, crime happens and the police force have to work hard to keep up the level of safety for its residents and visitors.
While taking a tour through the City of London, you are bound to come across some of the capital’s policemen and women along the way, so it is a great idea to know a little bit more about them.
The Metropolitan Police was the first organised police force, which was set up in 1829 by Sir Robert Peel. Since then the Police here in Britain were known to be referred to as ‘Peelers’, or more notably ‘Bobbies’.
Although before that, in 1749, the Bow Street Runners were the first professional police force which started out consisting of only six men. In fact, even before that there was always some form of policing in Britain ever since the Roman times.
In present day, the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police Forces operate in London.
Territorial Police are in charge of different areas in Britain while there are other types of special police forces that cover different areas of society, for example, the British Transport Police.
The traditional uniform with the custodian helmet is usually the one that springs to mind when you think of Britain. The helmet is worn by male police sergeants and constables who are patrolling on foot, whereas a flat peaked cap is worn in vehicles on mobile patrol.
• In the past, the police used to communicate via public call posts which made use of the telephone that was newly invented at the time. By the 1880s, these where followed by signal posts and then updated to the archetypal Dr Who Tardis style police box by the 1930s.
• The Metropolitan Police Force is the biggest force with more than 30,000 officers.
• There are 43 police forces in England and Wales, as well as the British Transport Police and the police forces of Scotland and Northern Ireland.
• Each police car contains a black box which records everything the vehicle does, so it’s a myth that the police put their sirens on when they are getting late for dinner!
• Real police uniforms where actually used in the UK TV show; The Bill. When the series ended, Scotland Yard had the uniforms bought back in for reissue to officers and to prevent charlatans.
It is now easier than ever to contact the police, should the need arise. Crime can now be reported online as well as over the phone, however it’s a good idea to follow a few simple safe-guarding tips to stay on the safe side and avert the attention of opportunistic criminals.
Be aware of your surroundings – Using your mobile phone or listening to loud music with headphones will distract you from what is going on around you. While walking down the street, always face towards oncoming traffic to reduce the risk of anyone approaching from behind to grab your belongings, while keeping an eye on what is ahead of you.
Hide your valuables – Keep mobiles, electronic devices and expensive jewellery out of sight to avoid street robbery. Pickpocketing is a problem in many major cities so always be on guard of your belongings while out and about. Never leave your mobile phone or handbag unattended, for example; on the back of a pushchair or a table and make sure that your belongings are not easily accessible from the back of a rucksack while travelling.
Be assertive and vigilant – Walk with confidence and try to stick to routes through public places especially at night. It is best to avoid walking alone through parks and side streets after dark. Taking intoxicants such as alcohol and drugs will leave you more vulnerable by reducing response times and inhibitions.
Plan ahead – Wherever possible try to travel in groups or at least tell someone where you are going and plan your route in advance. Arrange a meeting point with your group in the event that anyone gets left behind. Always keep your mobile phone charged and carry a small amount of cash.
In the unfortunate event of an emergency, call 999 or 112 for help from the police, ambulance or fire brigade. For incidents that are less urgent, you can call 101 for assistance from your local police.
That said, London is a safe place and you are bound to have a great time here. All these safety precautions are relevant wherever you go.
Police officers have sworn an oath to safeguard the citizens they represent. They do a great job identifying and averting crime, so it would be of notable significance to receive a gift from London such as a souvenir that features a British Policeman.
So if you happen to be in London and you see some Bobbies on the beat, be sure to say hello!