Old Bill launches operation hard sell

Licensing New Scotland Yard logo for use on toys, sunglasses and cufflinks will raise money for Metropolitan Police
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The Independent Online

It is one of the Metropolitan Police's most iconic images: the revolving New Scotland Yard sign, which sits outside the force's headquarters in central London, is instantly recognisable.

Until now, the three-sided sign is the only object to carry the New Scotland Yard logo, but that is about to change. For the first time the force is to licence the brand commercially.

A trademark for the use of the New Scotland Yard logo on merchandise was granted last week and the first deal for a manufacturer to use the name on its products has already been signed.

From next year, the toy makers John Adams will sell New Scotland Yard-branded children's forensic science sets, complete with fingerprint dust and mini mysteries to solve, with other toys, such as detective kits, to follow.

As well as children's toys, the Met is also talking to other possible partners and have plans to market other products bearing the New Scotland Yard logo, such as stationery, watches, cufflinks and sunglasses.

Anna Gardiner, the head of licensing at the Metropolitan Police said: "This is a really exciting time for us and a great opportunity for new licensees to get on board and tap into the heritage of New Scotland Yard."

The licensing deal is similar to that granted to the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the FBI in America, with a few exceptions. Because of differing laws in Britain, the force will not be allowed to brand anything with the Metropolitan Police logo, as to do so would risk the possibility of people being seen to impersonate police officers.

And while NYPD and FBI T-shirts and clothing are popular both in America and Britain, the New Scotland Yard licensing deal does not allow the force to use their logo on apparel. The reason for this is because the international rights to sell Scotland Yard-branded clothing were bought in the 1970s by an American kilt company based in a Scotland Yard in Kentucky.

But that apart, the Metropolitan Police are keen to explore all possible avenues for product endorsement. John Adams already has a three-year deal to market products that are "science and discovery" based, but Ms Gardiner explained that the rights to use the NSY logo on other goods are available to the highest bidder.

"Essentially it's a clean slate and most categories are up for grabs," she said. "We are looking forward to working with a range of licensees to establish the New Scotland Yard brand firmly in the market place."

The plan to use the New Scotland Yard brand in this way was originally hatched in 2003 after 10in-high police action figures, including a female police sergeant and an officer in riot gear, sold well.

Back then the vision was to launch an NYPD-style clothing line, the first products of which were to be polo shirts with the New Scotland Yard logo on the sleeves and lapels. However, that proposal was brought to a halt when it was discovered that the rights were own by the Kentucky kilt company.

But the force pushed ahead with the licensing plan which, it is hoped, will generate much-needed funds for the upkeep of the Metropolitan Police's historical collection. The collection dates back to 1829 – the year the force was founded – and comprises more than 1,500 items of uniform and 15,000 other artefacts such as medals and equipment used by officers throughout the years. It is housed in a warehouse, but with the funds raised from the various licensing deals, the police hope to be able to put it in a museum for members of the public to see.