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The name derives from the location of the original Metropolitan Police headquarters at 4 Whitehall Place, which had a rear entrance on a street called Great Scotland Yard. The Scotland Yard entrance became the public entrance to the police station, and over time the street and the Metropolitan Police became synonymous. The New York Times wrote in 1964 that just as Wall Street gave its name to New York's financial district, Scotland Yard became the name for police activity in London.
The force moved away from Great Scotland Yard in 1890, and the name New Scotland Yard was adopted for subsequent headquarters. The current New Scotland Yard is located on Broadway (Coordinates: ) in Victoria and has been the Metropolitan Police's headquarters since 1967. In 2013, it was announced that the force will move to a smaller building on the Victoria Embankment in 2015, which will be renamed Scotland Yard.
Commonly known as the Met, the Metropolitan Police Service is responsible for law enforcement within Greater London, excluding the square mile of the City of London, which is covered by the City of London Police. Additionally, the London Underground and National Rail networks are the responsibility of the British Transport Police. The Metropolitan Police was formed by Robert Peel with the implementation of the Metropolitan Police Act, passed by Parliament in 1829. Peel, with the help of Eugène-François Vidocq, selected the original site on Whitehall Place for the new police headquarters. The first two commissioners, Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne, along with various police officers and staff, occupied the building. Previously a private house, 4 Whitehall Place ( ) backed onto a street called Great Scotland Yard.
By 1887, the Met headquarters had expanded from 4 Whitehall Place into several neighbouring addresses, including 3, 5, 21 and 22 Whitehall Place; 8 and 9 Great Scotland Yard, and several stables. Eventually, the service outgrew its original site, and new headquarters were built ( ) on the Victoria Embankment, overlooking the River Thames, south of what is now the Ministry of Defence's headquarters. In 1888, during the construction of the new building, workers discovered the dismembered torso of a female; the case, known as the 'Whitehall Mystery', was never solved. In 1890, police headquarters moved to the new location, which was named New Scotland Yard. By this time, the Met had grown from its initial 1,000 officers to about 13,000 and needed more administrative staff and a bigger headquarters. Further increases in the size and responsibilities of the force required even more administrators, and in 1907 and 1940, New Scotland Yard was extended further ( ). This complex is now a Grade I listed structure known as the Norman Shaw Buildings.
The original building at 4 Whitehall Place still has a rear entrance on Great Scotland Yard. Stables for some of the mounted branch are still located at 7 Great Scotland Yard, across the street from the first headquarters.
By the 1960s the requirements of modern technology and further increases in the size of the force meant that it had outgrown its Victoria Embankment site. In 1967 New Scotland Yard moved to the present building on Broadway, which was an existing office block acquired under a long-term lease; the first New Scotland Yard is now partly used as the base for the Met's Territorial Support Group.
The Met's senior management team, who oversee the service, is based at New Scotland Yard at 10 Broadway, close to St. James's Park station, along with the Met's crime database. This uses a national computer system developed for major crime enquiries by all British forces, called Home Office Large Major Enquiry System, more commonly referred to by its acronym HOLMES, which recognises the great fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. The training programme is called 'Elementary', after Holmes's well-known, yet apocryphal, phrase "elementary, my dear Watson". Administrative functions are based at the Empress State Building, and communication handling at the three Metcall complexes, rather than at Scotland Yard.
A number of security measures were added to the exterior of New Scotland Yard during the 2000s, including concrete barriers in front of ground-level windows as a countermeasure against car bombing, a concrete wall around the entrance to the building, and a covered walkway from the street to the entrance into the building. Armed officers from the Diplomatic Protection Group patrol the exterior of the building along with security staff.
In May 2013 the Met confirmed that the New Scotland Yard building on Broadway will be sold and the force's headquarters will be moved to the Curtis Green Building ( This building currently houses the Territorial Policing headquarters and is adjacent to the original "New Scotland Yard" (Norman Shaw North Building).) on the Victoria Embankment, which will be renamed Scotland Yard. A competition was announced for architects to redesign the building prior to the Met moving to it in 2015.
Scotland Yard has become internationally famous as a symbol of policing, and detectives from Scotland Yard feature in many works of crime fiction. They were frequent allies, and sometimes antagonists, of Sherlock Holmes in Arthur Conan Doyle's famous stories (for instance, Inspector Lestrade). It is also referred to in Around the World in Eighty Days.
Many novelists have adopted fictional Scotland Yard detectives as the heroes or heroines of their stories. John Creasey's stories featuring George Gideon are amongst the earliest police procedurals. Commander Adam Dalgliesh, created by P. D. James, and Inspector Richard Jury, created by Martha Grimes are notable recent examples. A somewhat more improbable example is Baroness Orczy's aristocratic female Scotland Yard detective Molly Robertson-Kirk, known as Lady Molly of Scotland Yard. Agatha Christie's numerous mystery novels often referenced Scotland Yard, most notably in her Hercule Poirot series.
During the 1930s, there was a short-lived pulp magazine called variously Scotland Yard, Scotland Yard Detective Stories or Scotland Yard International Detective, which, despite the name, concentrated more on lurid crime stories set in the United States than anything to do with the Metropolitan Police.
Leslie Charteris featured Detective Inspector (later Detective Chief Inspector) Claud Eustace Teal of Scotland Yard in several of his Saint novels; the character reappeared in various dramatic incarnations of the series, notably on television by Ivor Dean. Scotland Yard was the name of a series of cinema featurettes made between 1953 and 1961. Introduced by Edgar Lustgarten, each episode featured a dramatised reconstruction of a "true crime" story. The series was succeeded by The Scales of Justice, which dealt with a similar theme.
In the James Bond novels and short stories by Ian Fleming and others, Assistant Commissioner Sir Ronald Vallance is a recurring fictional character who works for Scotland Yard. Gala Brand, who works for Ronnie Vallance at Scotland Yard, is featured in the 1955 novel Moonraker.
Fabian of the Yard was a television series filmed and transmitted by the BBC between 1954 and 1956, based upon the career of the by then retired Detective Inspector Robert Fabian. A long running gag to end skits in Monty Python's Flying Circus is a policeman in a tan raincoat and a fedora bursting in, and announcing himself as so-and-so "of the Yard".
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