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Wapping Harbour

Wapping is a district in East London, England, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It is situated between the north bank of the River Thames and the ancient thoroughfare simply called The Highway. Wapping's proximity to the river has given it a strong maritime character, which it retains through its riverside public houses and steps, such as the Prospect of Whitby and Wapping Stairs.

Wapping's proximity to the river gave it a strong maritime character for centuries, well into the 20th century. It was inhabited by sailors, mastmakers, boat-builders, blockmakers, instrument-makers, victuallers and representatives of all the other trades that supported the seafarer. Wapping was also the site of 'Execution Dock', where pirates and other water-borne criminals faced execution by hanging from a gibbet constructed close to the low water mark. Their bodies would be left dangling until they had been submerged three times by the tide.

Said to be England's first, the Marine Police Force was formed in 1798 by magistrate Patrick Colquhoun and a Master Mariner, John Harriott, to tackle theft and looting from ships anchored in the Pool of London and the lower reaches of the river. Its base was (and remains) in Wapping High Street and it is currently known as the Thames Division, a Central Operations branch of London's Metropolitan Police Service.

The area's strong maritime associations changed radically in the 19th century when the London Docks were built to the north and west of the High Street. Wapping's population plummeted by nearly 60% during that century, with many houses destroyed by the construction of the docks and giant warehouses along the riverfront. Squeezed between the high walls of the docks and warehouses, the district became isolated from the rest of London, although some relief was provided by Brunel's Thames Tunnel to Rotherhithe. The opening of Wapping tube station on the East London Line in 1869 provided a direct rail link to the rest of London.

Metropolitan Police Service

Metropolitan Police Service is the territorial police force responsible for law enforcement in Greater London, excluding the "square mile" of the City of London, which is the responsibility of the City of London Police. The Met also has significant national responsibilities, such as coordinating and leading on counter-terrorism matters and protection of the British Royal Family and senior figures of Her Majesty's Government.

A number of informal names and abbreviations exists for the Metropolitan Police Service, the most common being the Met. In colloquial London (or Cockney slang), it is sometimes referred to as the Old Bill. In statutes, it is referred to in the lower case as the "metropolitan police force" or the "metropolitan police", without the appendage "service". The Met is also referred to by the metonym Scotland Yard after the location of its original headquarters in a road called Great Scotland Yard in Whitehall.

The Metropolitan Police Service was founded in 1829, under the Metropolitan Police Act 1829, and at that time, merged with the River Thames Marine Police Force, which had been formed in 1798. In 1837, it also incorporated the Bow Street Horse Patrol that had been organised in 1805. Currently they are headquartered on the Victoria Embankment.

Legal jurisdiction: England & Wales (Northern Ireland and Scotland in limited circumstances)


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