The Thames River Police

The Thames River Police were founded in 1798 by the West India Committee to protect the West Indian trade passing through the Port of London. Based on a model of preventative policing, they predate the Metropolitan Police by 21 years and are recognised by UNESCO as the longest continuously serving police force in the world, existing today as the Met’s Marine Policing Unit. This year-long project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, has explored the rich and varied history of the forerunner of the Metropolitan Police.

In About you can learn about the project and how it happened, including some video diary entries.

An E-book is available on the Thames River Police’s remarkable history over the last two centuries. There is also a brief history of the Thames Police, a timeline and a list of resources for further reading. We also have a wide array of images over that period in our Gallery, as well as a virtual exhibition that shows the Thames River Police exhibition displayed at the Museum of London Docklands between October 2017 and January 2018.

In the Archive you can find the minutes of the West India Committee concerning the creation of the original Marine Police Institution and the problems facing the river, Patrick Colquhoun’s Treatise on the Commerce and Police of the River Thames and some newpaper and magazine articles.

In Downloads you can find a downloadable version of our e-book as well as educational posters and a heritage trail.

In Community you can explore how we worked with a variety of different organisations such as the Volunteer Police Cadets, the Prince’s Trust and Inside Time.

We would like to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Metropolitan Police, the Marine Policing Unit, the Volunteer Police Cadets, the Prince’s Trust, Inside Time and the Thames Police Association for their help and support in making this project possible.

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