Service records

This guide was last updated in 2009

To get started searching service records, you need to decide which archive to approach.

Many of the records of the Metropolitan Police are held in The National Archives at Kew. Others, for police forces around the country, are held usually either at the local or county record office, or are sometimes still with the relevant force. You may have to do some telephoning to track down the appropriate records and to establish whether they are available to view.

Survival is by no means guaranteed: there will certainly be an element of luck in finding the record that you want. But if you can get your hands on a service record, it is likely to give you such details as name and date of birth, date of entry into the force, promotions and date of leaving the force and details about family and previous career. If, like Thomas Irons, they were dismissed from the service, you are likely to find evidence of it here.

You may also find attestation and pension records, or details of any awards your ancestor might have won, which may contain further gems of information about your ancestor’s time with the police.

It may be that your ancestor was a member of a special police force that kept separate sets of records. For example, if they belonged to the City of London Police you should look for a record of them at the Guildhall Library, and if they belonged to the Docklands Police you should approach the Museum in Docklands to try and find out more.

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