List of police forces in the United Kingdom

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There are a number of policing agencies in the United Kingdom. There are three general types.

The majority of policing is carried out by regional 'police forces', which are police forces that cover a 'police area' (a particular region) and have an independent Police Authority. Current police forces have their grounding in the Police Act 1996, which prescribes a number of issues such as appointment of a Chief Constable, jurisdiction and responsibilities.

There are also national police forces that have a specific, non-regional jurisdiction, such as the British Transport Police. The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 refers to these as 'special police forces'.

There are also a number of local police forces or 'private constabularies' that have escaped police reform, mostly having their foundations in old legislation. These have a responsibility to police specific local areas, such as ports and parks.

Over the centuries there has been a wide variation in the number of police forces in the United Kingdom, with a huge number now no longer in existence. See List of former police forces in the United Kingdom for these.


[edit] Territorial Police Forces

[edit] England and Wales (Home Office Police Services)

The territorial forces use the boundaries of the local government areas (counties) established in the 1974 local government reorganisations (although with subsequent modifications). These forces provide the majority of policing services to the public of England and Wales. These forces are known as "Home Office police forces" due to the Acts of Parliament that established them. It should be noted, that despite the implication of the term, all police forces are independent, with operational control resting solely with the Chief Constable of each force (or the Commissioner with regard to the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police), with oversight from a Police Authority for each force.

The Police Act 1996 is the most recent piece of legislation which outlines the areas of responsibility for the 43 territorial forces of England and Wales (found in Schedule 1 of the Act). The Act also outlines the jurisdiction of constables of these forces.

Constable is the lowest rank in the police service, but all officers, whatever their rank are "constables" in terms of legal powers and jurisdiction. Police officers in Home Office police forces in England and Wales derive their jurisdiction from Section 30 of the Police Act 1996. This section outlines that such officers have jurisdiction throughout England and Wales and also the adjacent United Kingdom waters. Special Constables, who are part-time, volunteer officers of these forces, have more limited jurisdiction.

Generally, constables from English and Welsh Home Office forces do not have jurisdiction in Scotland or Northern Ireland and vice versa. However, limited powers exist to pursue and arrest where a person flees over the border into Scotland in certain situations. Legislation is also in place for "mutual aid" situations, which extends constables' jurisdiction into any part of the United Kingdom. An example of this was the G8 conference at Gleneagles, Scotland, where 14,000 officers from every force throughout the United Kingdom were involved and had full police powers under Scots law for the period of the operation.

A minor oddity to jurisdiction is that police officers of the Metropolitan Police who are responsible for Royalty and VIP protection have jurisdiction in any part of the United Kingdom whilst performing those functions.

In late 2005, the government announced that there was to be a reorganisation of Home Office police forces in England and Wales. Several options are currently under review, but any force with less than 4,000 regular officers will probably be merged with other forces to form regional police services. This is a controversial subject and many forces have made known their objections to the proposals. A decision as to the future organisation of the Home Office police forces was due to be made in February 2006.

As of July 2006, all plans to merge Home Office police forces have been abandoned by John Reid the current Home Secretary, with no changes forseen in the near future.

[edit] England

see also List of police forces in England sorted by county
  1. Avon and Somerset Constabulary
  2. Bedfordshire Police
  3. Cambridgeshire Constabulary
  4. Cheshire Constabulary
  5. City of London Police (not shown)
  6. Cleveland Police
  7. Cumbria Constabulary
  8. Derbyshire Constabulary
  9. Devon and Cornwall Constabulary
  10. Dorset Police
  11. Durham Constabulary
  12. Essex Police
  13. Gloucestershire Constabulary
  14. Greater Manchester Police
  15. Hampshire Constabulary
  16. Hertfordshire Constabulary
  17. Humberside Police
  18. Kent Police
  19. Lancashire Constabulary
  20. Leicestershire Constabulary
  1. Lincolnshire Police
  2. Merseyside Police
  3. Metropolitan Police
  4. Norfolk Constabulary
  5. Northamptonshire Police
  6. Northumbria Police
  7. North Yorkshire Police
  8. Nottinghamshire Police
  9. South Yorkshire Police
  10. Staffordshire Police
  11. Suffolk Constabulary
  12. Surrey Police
  13. Sussex Police
  14. Thames Valley Police
  15. Warwickshire Police
  16. West Mercia Constabulary
  17. West Midlands Police
  18. West Yorkshire Police
  19. Wiltshire Constabulary

Note: Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Mercia and West Midlands participate in a partnership called the Central Motorway Police Group

[edit] Wales

  1. Dyfed-Powys Police (Heddlu Dyfed Powys) - Dyfed and Powys
  2. Gwent Police (Heddlu Gwent) - Gwent
  3. North Wales Police (Heddlu Gogledd Cymru) - Gwynedd and Clwyd
  4. South Wales Police (Heddlu De Cymru) - South Glamorgan, Mid Glamorgan and West Glamorgan

[edit] Scotland

Most police powers and functions have been devolved to the Scottish Executive and Scottish Parliament. Areas for which legislative responsibility remains with the UK Government include national security, terrorism, firearms and drugs. The Police (Scotland) Act 1967, as amended, is the basis for the organisation and jurisdiction of the eight territorial forces in Scotland. Constables of these eight forces have jurisdiction throughout Scotland. (See above comments under English and Welsh forces for jurisdiction in other parts of the United Kingdom). The territorial forces use the boundaries of the local government regions established in the 1975 local government reorganisation, with minor adjustments to align with the current council area borders. These forces provide the majority of police services to the public of Scotland.

  1. Central Scotland Police - Central
  2. Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary - Dumfries and Galloway
  3. Fife Constabulary - Fife
  4. Grampian Police - Grampian
  5. Lothian and Borders Police - Lothian and Borders
  6. Northern Constabulary - Highlands and Islands
  7. Strathclyde Police - Strathclyde
  8. Tayside Police - Tayside

[edit] Northern Ireland

County and borough based police forces were not formed in Ireland as they were in Great Britain, with instead a single Royal Irish Constabulary covering most of Ireland (the exception being the Dublin Metropolitan Police, which was responsible for policing in Dublin). The Royal Ulster Constabulary was formed in 1922 after the establishment of the Irish Free State, and served until the reforms of the police under the terms established initially by the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 undertaken by the Patten Commission, which led to the renaming of the RUC in 2001.

[edit] Non-Territorial Police Forces

These forces have jurisdiction in either England and Wales or Scotland, although some cover both, whilst the Ministry of Defence Police also covers Northern Ireland. Within these broad jurisdictions, the remit of some of the forces is further limited to the areas that they police, such as railway infastructure or military/defence property. The Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 gave the British Transport Police and Ministry of Defence Police a conditional jurisdiction to act outside of their primary jurisdiction if they suspect a crime, believe that there is risk to life or limb, or have permission from the local force. As these forces are responsible to specific areas of infrastructure, they do not answer to the Home Office, but instead to the government department responsible for the area they police:

[edit] Organised Crime Agencies

These two agencies are national bodies responsible for tackling organised crime. The SDEA is a purely Scottish organisation answerable to the Scottish Executive, while the SOCA is a national body with jurisdiction throughout the United Kingdom, answerable to the Home Office.

[edit] Local Police/Private Constabularies

These constabularies generally come under the control of a local authority or even private companies, in the case of some ports police and the Mersey Tunnels Police. They have been established by individual Acts of Parliament to police specific local areas. Jurisdiction is invariably limited to that area alone. This, together with the small size of the constabularies, means they are reliant on the territorial force for the area whose under whose jurisdiction they fall to assist with any serious matter. These constabularies do not have independent Police Authorities and their founding statutes invariably do not prescribe their structure and formation.

[edit] Ports police

[edit] Parks and Open Spaces

These small police forces are responsible for policing specific land and parks. Officers of these forces have full powers of a constable within their limited jurisdiction.

On 1 April 2004, following a review of the Royal Parks Constabulary by Anthony Speed, the Metropolitan Police took on the responsibility of policing the Royal Parks in Greater London.

These constabularies are responsible for policing bye-laws within the parks and open spaces of their respective local authorities in London. At present it is understood the members of these constabularies are not police constables but parks constables and cannot enforce criminal law or have any powers over and above that of any member of the public.

[edit] Other

[edit] Other UK territorial police

[edit] Crown Dependencies

[edit] Overseas Territories

[edit] Military Police

[edit] Overseas Police Forces in the UK

There are certain instances where police forces of other nations operate in a limited degree in the United Kingdom:

[edit] Police Forces of Former Overseas Territories/Colonies

[edit] See also

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List of police forces in the United Kingdom

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