List of law enforcement agencies in the United Kingdom, Crown dependencies and British Overseas Territories

Last updated

Metropolitan Police officers on crowd control to prevent Football hooliganism after England lose to Portugal, 1 July 2006 MPS officers supervising World Cup, 2006.jpg
Metropolitan Police officers on crowd control to prevent Football hooliganism after England lose to Portugal, 1 July 2006

There are a number of agencies that participate in law enforcement in the United Kingdom which can be grouped into three general types:

Contents

Most law enforcement in the United Kingdom is carried out by territorial police forces that police the general public and their activities. The other types of agencies are concerned with policing of more specific matters.

Over the centuries there has been a wide variation in the number of police forces in the United Kingdom, with a large number now no longer in existence.

Territorial police forces

Most policing in the United Kingdom is conducted by the 45 territorial police forces of the 4 nations. These forces are ultimately responsible for all law and order within their respective police area (a legal term which defines the geographic area of primary responsibility). This is not the same as legal jurisdiction, see below. Two nations of the United Kingdom, Scotland and Northern Ireland, have national police forces. The breakdown of all territorial police forces across the United Kingdom is as follows:

England and Wales

Map of English and Welsh Police areas in the United Kingdom.svg
  Police forces in England and Wales

Except in Greater London, each territorial police force covers one or more of the local government areas (counties) established in the 1974 local government reorganisations (although with subsequent modifications), in an area known in statute as a police area. These forces provide most of the policing services to the public of England and Wales. These forces have been known historically as "Home Office police forces" due to the central government department, the Home Office, being responsible for and providing most of the funding these police forces. Despite the implication of the term, all police forces are independent, with operational control resting solely with the chief officer of each force (the Chief Constable or with regard to the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police forces, their respective Commissioners); each force was overseen by a Police authority until these were replaced by Police and Crime Commissioners in 2012.

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).

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 territorial 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, used to have a more limited jurisdiction – limited solely to their own force areas and adjacent forces. Since 1 April 2007, however Special Constables of England & Wales have full police powers throughout those two countries. This means that, in contrast to most countries, all UK volunteer police officers now have exactly the same powers as their full-time colleagues. There are a number of situations in which the jurisdiction of a constable extends to one of the other countries, and constables of one jurisdiction do have reciprocal powers of arrest in each other's jurisdictions as a matter of course – see the main article for details.

England

EnglandPoliceNumbered.png
  Police forces in England

As of September 2020, the police forces in England have: [3]

Wales

WalesPolice.png
  Police forces in Wales
  1. Dyfed-Powys Police (Heddlu Dyfed Powys)
  2. Gwent Police (Heddlu Gwent)
  3. North Wales Police (Heddlu Gogledd Cymru)
  4. South Wales Police (Heddlu De Cymru)

As of September 2020, the police forces in Wales have: [3]

Collaborative units

  • South East Counter Terrorism Unit
  • Thames Valley & Hampshire Joint Operations Unit
  • Surrey Police & Sussex Police Tactical Firearms, Operations Command and Roads Policing Unit
  • South West Counter Terrorism Unit
  • Dorset Police and Devon & Cornwall Police Strategic Alliance Unit
  • East Counter Terrorism Intelligence Unit
  • Norfolk & Suffolk Roads Policing Unit
  • Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Hertfordshire Road Policing Unit
  • Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit
  • East Midlands Counter Terrorism Intelligence Unit
  • West Midlands Police Counter Terrorism Unit
  • Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police Specialist Operations Unit
  • North West Counter Terrorism Unit
  • Cheshire Police & North Wales Police Alliance Armed Policing Unit
  • North East Counter Terrorism Unit
  • Durham and Cleveland Specialist Operations Unit
  • Welsh Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit
  • Gwent Police & South Wales Police Joint Armed Response Unit

Scotland

Map of Scotland Police area in the United Kingdom.svg

Most police powers and functions have been inherited by the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament from the Scottish Office. Areas for which legislative responsibility remains with the UK Government include national security, terrorism, firearms and drugs. The Police (Scotland) Act 1967, as amended, was the basis for the organisation and jurisdiction of the eight former territorial forces in Scotland that were formed in 1975. These forces covered one or more of the areas of the local government regions established in the 1975 local government reorganisation (and since abolished), with minor adjustments to align with the post-1996 council area borders. These forces provided most of the police services to the public of Scotland, although Scottish police officers also have limited jurisdiction throughout the rest of the United Kingdom as required (See above comments under English and Welsh forces).

In 2011, the Scottish Government announced that it planned to amalgamate the eight territorial forces in Scotland, along with the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, into a single agency. The Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012, an Act of the Scottish Parliament, codified this amalgamation and brought about the new Police Service of Scotland (to be known as "Police Scotland"). The new force was established on 1 April 2013.

In 2017, plans were being debated in the Scottish Parliament to merge railway policing with Police Scotland.

As of December 2019, police numbers in Scotland were: [4]

Community Support Officers, commonly referred to as "Police Community Support Officers", were established by Section 38(2) of the Police Reform Act 2002, which applies only to England and Wales. There are therefore no Community Support Officers in Scotland.

Northern Ireland

Map of Northern Ireland Police area in the United Kingdom.svg

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 exceptions being the Dublin Metropolitan Police, which was responsible for policing in Dublin, and the Londonderry Borough Police and Belfast Town Police, both replaced by the RIC in the late Victorian period). 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. The Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 sets out the basis for the organisation and function of the police force in the province. Until 2010, police powers were not transferred to the devolved Northern Ireland Executive, unlike Scotland, instead remaining with the Northern Ireland Office. However, in January 2010 agreement was reached between the two largest parties in the Assembly, the DUP and Sinn Féin, over a course that would see them assume responsibility for policing and justice from April. [5]

As of April 2007 police numbers in Northern Ireland were: [6]

Police in Northern Ireland do not employ Police Community Support Officers

National Collaborative Units

Bodies hosted by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC)

Bodies hosted by territorial police forces

Special police forces

The following three government agencies are defined in legislation as "special police forces". 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. All three forces do voluntarily submit themselves to HMIC inspection:

The Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 gave the British Transport Police and Ministry of Defence Police a limited, conditional authority to act outside of their primary jurisdiction, if the situation requires urgent police action and the local force are not readily available, or if they believe that there is risk to life or limb, or where they are assisting the local force.

Non-police force law enforcement

Uniformed and/or investigative

Bodies with limited executive powers

Bodies with solely investigatory powers

The use of investigatory powers is controlled by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. Up to 792 public authorities have powers that are restricted by RIPA. [17]

Miscellaneous police forces

These police forces generally come under the control of a local authority, public trusts or even private companies; examples include some ports police and the Mersey Tunnels Police. They could have been established by individual Acts of Parliament or under common law powers. Jurisdiction is generally limited to the relevant area of private property alone and in some cases (e.g. docks and harbours) the surrounding area. This, together with the small size of the police forces, means they are often reliant on the territorial force for the area under whose jurisdiction they fall to assist with any serious matter. The statutory responsibility for law and order sits with the territorial police forces even if there is a specialist police force in the locality. These police forces do not have independent Police Authorities and their founding statutes (if any) do not generally prescribe their structure and formation.

Ports police

There are two types of port police in the United Kingdom — most are sworn in under the 1847 Act, but a few have Acts specific to their port.

Ports police operating under the Harbours, Docks, and Piers Clauses Act 1847

For every port/harbour, an individual Act of Parliament (or, more recently, a Harbour (Revision) Order) can incorporate parts of the Harbours, Docks, and Piers Clauses Act 1847 (HDPCA) and apply them to that specific port/harbour. Officers of port police forces are sworn in as "special constables" under section 79 of the 1847 Act, as incorporated by the individual local Act. As a result, officers have the full powers of a constable on any land owned by the harbour, dock, or port and at any place within one mile of any owned land.

The Marine Navigation Act 2013 has potentially enabled ports contables in England & Wales to act as constables beyond this one mile limit, in relation to policing purposes connected with the port only, in a police area where consent has been obtained from the relevant Chief Constable. [18] This act does not however give general police powers to ports constables beyond their core jurisdiction as set out in the 1847 act, merely in relation to policing purposes connected to the port as set out in the Act. As of 2014, 3 ports police forces (Dover, Teesport and Bristol) have sought and received consent from the local Chief Constable, with a fourth (Liverpool) in the process of applying for it. This has enabled these 3 ports forces to act as constables, in relation to policing purposes connected to the port, throughout the police area in which they are geographically located. [19] There are 224 constables sworn in under the 1847 Act. [20] Serious or major incidents or crime generally become the responsibility of the local territorial police force.

Other ports police

Parks police

Parks not controlled by local authorities

These small constabularies are responsible for policing specific land and parks. Officers of these forces have the powers of a constable within their limited jurisdiction. They are not constables as dealt with in the general Police Acts.

The Parks Regulation Act 1872 provides for the attestation of parks constables.

Parks controlled by local authorities

A photograph of officers of the Birmingham Parks Police, taken between c. 1900 and 1910. Birmingham Parks Police photo.jpg
A photograph of officers of the Birmingham Parks Police, taken between c. 1900 and 1910.

Over history, a number of local authorities outside London have maintained their own parks police forces, the most notable being Liverpool (Liverpool Parks Police) and Birmingham (Birmingham Parks Police). No local authority parks police forces currently exist outside London, although the legal powers for them to do so (granted by various local Acts of Parliament) survive in a limited number of cases.

In London, these constabularies are responsible for enforcing byelaws within the parks and open spaces of their respective local authorities. Members of the constabularies are sworn as constables under article 18 of the Greater London Parks and Open Spaces Order 1967. [lower-alpha 1] Members of the constabularies are constables only in relation to the enforcement of the parks byelaws (which, by definition, apply only in the parks). [25]

Some of these constables have (or have had) a shared role as security staff for their own local authority's buildings and housing estates with appropriate changes of badges and/or uniform being made when changing to/from park duties.

Cathedral constables

Canterbury Cathedral Constable (Inspector) in beat uniform Canterbury Cathedral Constable in uniform.jpg
Canterbury Cathedral Constable (Inspector) in beat uniform

Cathedrals that have their own Constabularies consisting of attested constables that keep the peace at each Cathedral.

Market police

Traditionally, markets would employ constables to look after markets. Most no longer exist, or exist in a form without attested constables (see below).

Other

Defence, military and service police

Each branch of the military has its own service police, though the powers of a service policeman are identical and recipricol across all three services. The service police is made up of the:

In the UK, the service police exercise jurisdiction over those serving in the military in any capacity and those civilians subject to service discipline as defined by the Armed Forces Act 2006. [28] They are not 'constables' and do not have any policing powers in relation to the general public in normal circumstances. [29] In British Forces Germany, under the Status Of Forces Act, military police have jurisdiction over British Forces personnel, their families, MOD contractors, and NAAFI staff.

Service Police are Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) trained and all investigations are PACE compliant. They make regular use of civilian police facilities often conducting joint investigations where necessary. The Service Police are able to investigate all crime within their jurisdiction, up to and including Murder, however within the UK, offences of murder and sudden deaths are passed to the local police force as per national jurisdiction agreements.

Whilst operating in conflict zones the military police will conduct the full range of policing including murder investigations as evidenced by the Sgt Blackman investigation. [30]

Other agencies exist to provide security to MOD and military bases in the UK and abroad.

Bodies with limited enforcement powers

There are also non-police (of any type) organisations who have been given certain powers to enforce rules, regulations and laws.

  1. Under the community safety accreditation scheme (CSAS) and the similar railway safety accreditation scheme (RSAS), [32] police forces in England and Wales have the power to grant limited powers to official persons (such as council wardens and private security staff), for example, the power to confiscate alcohol from under 18s.
  2. Under the national railway byelaws, any 'authorised person' may ensure all persons on the railway are abiding by the byelaws. [33] Generally, railway train operating companies (TOCs) leave this to dedicated enforcement officers. Sometimes these officers will have powers under the Railway safety accreditation scheme and as they are working for the railway, they also have powers under the railway byelaws.

Under the community safety accreditation scheme (CSAS), there are many different people involved, such as council staff, park rangers [34] or private security staff that work for councils and local authorities and many different titles are used:

Community based
Railway based

(Officers with powers under both national byelaws and RSAS)

Crown dependencies

Isle of Man

Defunct
FlagLogoService/Force NameLocationInformation
Isle of Man flag.jpg
Isle of Man Constabulary

(Meoiryn-Shee Ellan Vannin)

Isle of Man Civilian main police force for the Crown Dependency
FlagLogoService/Force NameLocationInformation
Isle of Man flag.jpg
Isle of Man Customs and Excise Division Isle of Man Administers all Customs and Excise duties
FlagLogoService/Force NameLocationInformation
Isle of Man flag.jpg
Isle of Man Prison and Probation Service Isle of Man Administers HM Prison and probation on the Isle

Bailiwick of Jersey

A recruiting banner for the Honorary Police showing the arms of each parish: (from left to right) Grouville, St Brelade, St John, Trinity, St Saviour, St Ouen, St Helier, St Mary, St Lawrence, St Clement, St Peter, St Martin Honorary Police banner Jersey.jpg
A recruiting banner for the Honorary Police showing the arms of each parish: (from left to right) Grouville, St Brelade, St John, Trinity, St Saviour, St Ouen, St Helier, St Mary, St Lawrence, St Clement, St Peter, St Martin
FlagLogoService/Force NameLocationInformation
Flag of Jersey.svg States of Jersey Police

(Police d'États de Jersey)

Jersey Main civilian police force for the Crown Dependency
FlagLogoService/Force NameLocationInformation
Flag of Jersey.svg States of Jersey Customs and Immigration Service Jersey Administers all Customs and Immigration duties
FlagLogoService/Force NameLocationInformation
Flag of Jersey.svg Honorary Police (French: Police Honorifique) Jersey maintain law and order in their parish
FlagLogoService/Force NameLocationInformation
Flag of Jersey.svg Jersey Prison ServiceHM Prison La Moyerun HM Prison

Bailiwick of Guernsey

FlagLogoService/Force NameLocationInformation
Flag of Guernsey.svg States of Guernsey Police Service

(États de Guernesey Service de police)

Jersey Main civilian police force for the Crown Dependency
FlagLogoService/Force NameLocationInformation
Flag of Guernsey.svg Guernsey Border Agency Guernsey Administers all Customs and Immigration duties
FlagLogoService/Force NameLocationInformation
Flag of Guernsey.svg Honorary Police (French: Police Honorifique) Jersey maintain law and order in their parish

Overseas Territories

Civil Police

Table

Name of TerritoryFlag of TerritoryArms of TerritoryService/Force NameLocationMottoInformation
Sovereign Base Areas, Cyprus
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom (HM Government).svg
SBA police patch.jpg Civilian Sovereign Base Areas Police (SBA Police) and Military Cyprus Joint Police Unit (includes RMP TRF.svg RN Police, RMP TRF.svg RMP and RMP TRF.svg RAF Police) Cyprus, Mediterranean Sea Civilian defence police and British service police police the SBAs
Anguilla
Flag of Anguilla.svg
Coat of Arms of Anguilla.svg
Royal Anguilla Police Force (RAPF) Caribbean, North Atlantic Ocean
Bermuda
Flag of Bermuda.svg
Coat of arms of Bermuda.svg
Bermuda Police Force cap badge.jpg Bermuda Police Service (BPS)

Airport Security Police patch.jpg Airport Security Police of Bermuda
Royal Bermuda Regiment.svg Regimental Police of the Royal Bermuda Regiment

North Atlantic Ocean between Cape Hatteras, Cape Sable Island, the Caribbean, and the Azores
British Antarctic Territory
Flag of the British Antarctic Territory.svg
Coat of arms of the British Antarctic Territory.svg
N/A Antarctica No police force
British Indian Ocean Territory
Flag of the Commissioner of the British Indian Ocean Territory.svg
Coat of arms of the British Indian Ocean Territory.svg
British Indian Ocean Territory Police (BIOT Police) (service police) Indian Ocean BIOT police are serving military police NCOs and officers from the British Armed Forces
British Virgin Islands
Flag of the British Virgin Islands.svg
Coat of arms of the British Virgin Islands.svg
Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) Caribbean, North Atlantic Ocean
Cayman Islands Flag of the Cayman Islands.svg
Coat of arms of the Cayman Islands.svg
Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIP) Caribbean
Falkland Islands
Flag of the Falkland Islands.svg
Coat of arms of the Falkland Islands.svg
Royal Falkland Islands Police (RFIP)

Joint Service Police & Security Unit (JSPSU) of British Forces South Atlantic

South Atlantic OceanJSPSU on the island are sworn in as RFIP reserve constables, so that they have full civil police powers during their tour of duty. [35]
Gibraltar
Flag of Gibraltar.svg
Coat of arms of Gibraltar1.svg
Royal Gibraltar Police, (RGP)

Gibraltar Defence Police (GDP)

Iberian Peninsula, Continental Europe
Montserrat
Flag of Montserrat.svg
Coat of arms of Montserrat.svg
Royal Montserrat Police Service (RMPS)Caribbean, North Atlantic Ocean
Pitcairn Islands
Flag of the Pitcairn Islands.svg
Coat of arms of the Pitcairn Islands.svg
see Law enforcement in the Pitcairn Islands Pacific OceanSerious sexual abuse history. New Zealand police and prison officers carry out services on the Island(s).
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha,
South Atlantic Ocean Saint Helena Police Service police all three islands
Flag of Saint Helena.svg
Shield of Saint Helena.svg
Saint Helena Police Service
Flag of Ascension Island.svg
Coat of Arms of Ascension Island.svg
Saint Helena Police Service
Flag of Tristan da Cunha.svg
Coat of arms of Tristan da Cunha.svg
Saint Helena Police Service
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
Flag of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.svg
Coat of arms of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.svg
See Information boxSouth Atlantic OceanReserve police officers. Chief of Police is the Chief of Royal Falkland Islands Police (RFIP), any full-time officer needed is also RFIP
Turks and Caicos Islands
Flag of the Turks and Caicos Islands.svg
Coat of arms of the Turks and Caicos Islands.svg
Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force (RTCIPF) Lucayan Archipelago, North Atlantic Ocean“To make the Turks and Caicos Islands a safe and secure country in which to visit, invest, work, and live”One of the oldest forces - founded in 1799

List

Ministry of Defence overseas police

Overseas service (military) police

Prison service and corrections

Customs, immigration and border

N.B. "Her Majesty's" is often shortened to HM.

Overseas law enforcement in the UK

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

See also

Notes

  1. The 1967 order is scheduled to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government Provisional Order Confirmation (Greater London Parks and Open Spaces) Act 1967. [24]

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Law enforcement by country

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Further reading