British ‘bobbies’

In Britain today police officers are often called Bobbies.

This probably refers to Sir Robert Peel who was the Home Secretary*. He established the Metropolitan Police Force in London. Bob is a shortened version of Robert.

The first constables for the new police force began work on 29 September 1829. Their uniform was blue to demonstrate that they were not soldiers who, at that time, wore red uniforms. They carried a truncheon and a rattle. The rattle was later replaced with a whistle. The normal police in Britain are not armed, they do not carry guns. There are specialist officers who are trained in firearms. They can usually be found at important locations such a parliament, airports and large public events.

The London police force, however, was not the first in Britain. That distinction goes to Glasgow in Scotland where the first police appeared in the year 1800.

*In Britain, the Home Secretary is the equivalent to an interior minister.  He or she is the government minister responsible for the police, legal matters, immigration, and public safety.


  • constable – el/ la agente de policía
  • firearm – el arma de fuego
  • police force – el cuerpo de policía
  • rattle – el sonajero
  • to shorten – acortar
  • truncheon – la porra
  • whistle – el pito


Many words in English and Spanish are the same or very similar.  These are called cognates (cognados).

  • armed – armado
  • distinction – la distinción
  • parliament – el parlamento/ el congreso
  • specialist – el/la especialista
  • uniform – el uniforme
  • version – la versión
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