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List of Law Enforcement Agencies in the United Kingdom
Miscellaneous police forces, mostly having their foundations in older legislation or common law. These are responsible for policing specific local areas or activities, such as ports and parks. Before the passing of recent legislation such as the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, they were often referred to as 'special police forces'; care must therefore be taken in interpreting historical use of that phrase. These constabularies are not within the scope of the legislation applicable to the previously-mentioned organisations but can still be the subject of statutes applicable to, for example, docks, harbours or railways. Until the passing of Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, the British Transport Police was such a force.
The majority of 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.
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 the majority of 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 the majority of 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 the majority of 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.
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
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 the majority of 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).
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.
As of April 2007 police numbers in Northern Ireland were:
Police officers: 7,216
Full-time reserve police officers: 335
Part-time police officers: 684
Other staff: 2,265
Police in Northern Ireland do not employ Police Community Support Officers
County police forces traditionally bore the name "constabulary" upon their formation (as a derivation of "constable"). The reorganisation of police forces over the years has seen this name dropped in favour of "police" as a name, as many have decided that the word "constabulary" is confusing for people more used to searching for the word "police". However, a number of police forces in the areas overseen by the United Kingdom retain the name "constabulary":
These bodies operate in more than one county of the United Kingdom. The remit of some of the forces is further limited to the areas that they police, such as railway infrastructure. 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.
National Crime Agency (NCA) - An agency that leads UK-wide activities to combat high-level crime such as organised crime. In addition, the NCA acts as the UK point of contact for foreign law enforcement agencies. It replaced the Serious Organised Crime Agency in 2013.
Border Force - a law-enforcement command within the Home Office, responsible for frontline border control operations at air, sea and rail ports. Border Force officers are dual-warranted as immigration and customs officers. They have powers of arrest and detention under the Immigration Act 1971 and Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009. Designated immigration officers have additional powers from the UK Borders Act 2007, allowing them to arrest a person suspected non-border offences - as a police constable would.
Additionally, 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:
Ministry of Defence Police - A police force tasked with providing armed security, uniformed policing, and investigative services to Ministry of Defence installations throughout the United Kingdom.
Civil Nuclear Constabulary - A police force responsible for providing law enforcement and security at or within 5 km of any relevant nuclear site and for nuclear materials in transit within the United Kingdom.
British Transport Police (Great Britain) - A police force responsible for providing law enforcement at certain railways and light-rail systems in Great Britain.
National Wildlife Crime Unit - A police unit run by the NPCC that gathers intelligence on wildlife crime and provides analytical and investigative support to law enforcement agencies across the United Kingdom.
Protection Command - A police unit that is part of the Metropolitan Police Service Specialist Operations Directorate, responsible for providing protective security to the government/diplomatic community and the Royal Family within the United Kingdom.
National Ballistics Intelligence Service (Great Britain) - A police unit hosted by West Midlands Police, tasked with gathering and disseminating fast time intelligence on the criminal use of firearms across Great Britain.
National Police Air Service (England and Wales) - A police aviation service hosted by West Yorkshire Police, that provides centralised air support to the 43 territorial police forces in England and Wales.
Bodies with limited executive powers
These organisations are not police forces but do have similar powers to that of the police with the exception that they cannot arrest a person nor make forcible entry without a warrant.
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.
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. 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. There are 224 constables sworn in under the 1847 Act. Serious or major incidents or crime generally become the responsibility of the local territorial police force.
Port of Dover Police -- Port of Dover, Dover: HDPCA incorporated by section 3 of the Dover Harbour Consolidation Act 1954, and incorporation amended by part 4 of the Dover Harbour Revision Order 2006. Given the large amount of property owned by the port, their jurisdiction effectively extends to all of Dover and now throughout Kent (in relation to port policing matters only) in order to be able to take arrested persons to Custody Suites.
A large, new port on the Thames Estuary (and within the Port of London area) called "London Gateway", the owners have the authority to create their own police force for the port. The legislation also incorporates S.79 of the 1847 Act.
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.
Constables of this force have full police powers whilst on land belonging to the Royal Botanical Gardens as per the Parks Regulation Act 1872 as amended by section 3 (a) of the Parks Regulation (Amendment) Act 1974.
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.[a] Members of the constabularies are constables only in relation to the enforcement of the parks byelaws (which, by definition, apply only in the parks).
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.
Traditionally, markets would employ constables to look after markets. Most no longer exist, or exist in a form without attested constables (see below).
The City of London market constabularies are three small constabularies responsible for security at Billingsgate, New Spitalfields and Smithfield markets run by the City of London Corporation. However, unlike most other miscellaneous police organisations, the members are no longer attested as constables.
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. They are not 'constables' and do not have any policing powers in relation to the general public in normal circumstances. 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 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.
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.
Under the community safety accreditation scheme (CSAS) and the similar railway safety accreditation scheme (RSAS), 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.
Under the national railway byelaws, any 'authorised person' may ensure all persons on the railway are abiding by the byelaws. 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 or private security staff that work for councils and local authorities and many different titles are used:
The Isle of Man Prison and Probation Service runs the Isle of Man Prison, the only prison on the island.
Isle of Man Customs and Excise Division is tasked with customs duties on the island.
Bailiwick of Jersey
The States of Jersey Police(Police d'États de Jersey) is the police service of Jersey. It was established in its current form by the Police Force (Jersey) Law, 1974 and consists of around 240 officers.
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 - There is an Honorary Police (French: Police Honorifique) force in each parish in Jersey. Honorary Police officers have, for centuries, been elected by parishioners to assist the Connétable of the Parish to maintain law and order, and to this day the only person who may charge a person with an offence is the Centenier of the parish in which the offence allegedly took place. Officers are elected as Centeniers, Vingteniers or Constable's Officers, each with various duties and responsibilities.
Jersey Prison Service, responsible for running the HM Prison La Moye.
Bailiwick of Guernsey
The States of Guernsey Police Service (États de Guernesey Service de police) is the local police force for the Crown dependency of Guernsey. In addition to providing police for the island of Guernsey itself, the Guernsey Police also provides detachments for the islands of Alderney, Herm and Sark.