PortCities London

Policing the Port of London


Landing a prisoner.
View full size imageLanding a prisoner at Wapping police station. © NMM

Throughout its long history, the Port of London was often a dangerous and crime-ridden place in which to live and work. From the earliest days of the docks, police forces and armed units were formed to safeguard people and property.

For many years, these crimefighting organizations were established and controlled by private individuals and companies. Later, they came under the remit of either the Port of London Authority (PLA) or the Metropolitan Police’s Thames Division (established in 1839).

A Metropolitan Police launch passing Greenwich.
View full size imageA Metropolitan Police launch passing Greenwich. © NMM

As well as fighting crime, the police had other tasks, such as dealing with social unrest in the port and carrying out rescue work in the river.

Today, the River Police still patrol the Thames between Dartford and Hampton Court in a fleet of fast cruisers.