Why is Scotland Yard called Scotland Yard? Name of the Metropolitan Police headquarters explained

The London police force is responsible for policing all 32 boroughs of the UK capital - but does it have links to Scotland?

New Scotland Yard is the official name of the Metropolitan Police headquarters in London, but the name dates back to the 1800s (Picture: Getty Images)
New Scotland Yard is the official name of the Metropolitan Police headquarters in London, but the name dates back to the 1800s (Picture: Getty Images)

Scotland Yard’s name suggests it is a police force north of the border, but it is actually another name for the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police force, in London.

Now officially known as New Scotland Yard, the building sits in Westminster, where the headquarters have been located since 2016.

So, why is the force often referred to as ‘Scotland Yard’ and where did the name come from? This is what you need to know.

What are the origins of Scotland Yard?

The London police force, The Metropolitan Police, was originally stationed at Whitehall and had a back entrance, which faced Great Scotland Yard.

The Metropolitan Police expanded throughout the 1800s and the force took up several buildings across the Whitehall area of Westminster from 1829 until 1890.

During this time, the main address at 4 Whitehall Place, which had a back entrance on to Great Scotland Yard, became the public entrance for the force.

As such, the building was referred to as Scotland Yard and so the name is now synonymous with the London police force.

What are its links to Scotland?

The Metropolitan Police does not have any official links to Scotland, other than the location of its headquarters on Great Scotland Yard - a street in the St. James's district of Westminster - in the 1800s.

Great Scotland Yard was named this because it stood on the site of a medieval palace that had housed Scottish royalty when they were in London on visits.

By the time the police force had taken up residence in Westminster, the palace no longer existed.

Where did the Metropolitan Police Service move to?

The Met has since moved several times, first in 1890 to a building designed by architect Richard Norman Shaw, on the Victoria Embankment.

The new location became known as ‘New Scotland Yard’, and grew to support the expanding force - from 1,000 to more than 13,000 personnel - and it had become a three-building complex by 1940.

In 1967, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police moved to 8-10 Broadway, in a new building bordering Victoria Street.

In May 2013 the Metropolitan Police confirmed that the New Scotland Yard building on Broadway would be sold and the force would return to the Curtis Green Building, one of the three buildings the force used until 1967.

This building has previously been used as the Territorial Policing headquarters and is across from the original Norman Shaw North Building.

In December 2015, construction work on the Curtis Green building was completed and in October 2016, staff moved to their new headquarters.

Stables for some of the mounted branches are still located at 7 Great Scotland Yard, one of the original sites used by the force in the mid 19th century.

What area does the Metropolitan Police cover?

The Met polices 620 square miles and serves more than eight million people across the UK’s largest city.

The area consists of 32 boroughs within Greater London, excluding the City of London.