definition of Wikipedia
in the United Kingdom
|Types of agency|
|Types of agent|
This is a list of law enforcement agencies in the United Kingdom. There are a number of agencies which participate in law enforcement in the United Kingdom. There are four general types mostly concerned with policing the general public and their activities and a number of others concerned with policing of other, usually localised, matters.
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 defunct law enforcement agencies in the United Kingdom for these.
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":
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 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 Acts of Parliament that established them although use of that description was only correct for the Metropolitan Police and in that case ceased to be so when local control was transferred from the Home Office to the Metropolitan Police Authority. 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 is overseen by a Police Authority.
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 (collectively, their "constablewick"). 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 – see the main article for details.
As of March 2010 police numbers in England and Wales were:
As of March 2010 police numbers in England:
As of March 2010 police numbers in Wales were:
A number of organisations are run under the auspices of the Association of Chief Police Officers. They are not legally constituted, nor do their staff have any special powers, but consist of police officers and police staff seconded from the territorial police forces. They generally provide support services and co-ordinate intelligence gathering on a national scale.
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, 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). Each territorial force covers 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 current council area borders. These forces provide the majority of police services to the public of Scotland.
As of September 2009, police numbers in Scotland were:
Police in Scotland do not employ Police Community Support Officers. This includes the British Transport Police who only have PCSOs in England and Wales
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 Belfast Town Police force, which was replaced by the RIC in the 1880s). 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.
As of April 2007 police numbers in Northern Ireland were:
Police in Northern Ireland do not employ Police Community Support Officers
These forces (except the SCDEA) operate in more than one jurisdiction of the United Kingdom. Within the multiple jurisdictions, 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 jurisdiction 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. 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. Both the MDP and BTP do voluntarily submit themselves to HMIC inspection:
These forces are now defined in legislation as "special police forces".
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 forceable entry without a warrant; however, police Officers cannot make forceable entry without a warrant either unless pursuing (chasing) a suspect, or responding to an emergency. Obstructing a police officer carries a higher penalty than obstructing other law enforcement officers.
The use of investigatory powers is controlled by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. Up to 792 public authorities can utilise these powers.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission investigates complaints against police officers and staff of the police forces in England and Wales, and staff of HM Revenue and Customs, the Serious Organised Crime Agency in England and Wales and the UK Border Agency. Certain investigators of the IPCC, for the purposes of the carrying out of an investigation and all purposes connected with it, have all the powers and privileges of constables throughout England and Wales and the territorial waters.
The Serious Organised Crime Agency is responsible for tackling organised crime with jurisdiction throughout England and Wales and some jurisdiction in Scotland and Northern Ireland (usually requiring permission or co-operation of the relevant government or police force). SOCA is an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by, but operationally independent from, the Home Office.
SOCA officers can either be designated with the powers of a constable, Customs Officer and/or Immigration Officer. These designations can be unconditional or conditional: time limited or limited to a specific operation. Whilst SOCA officers do not hold the office of constable, those who have been designated with the powers of a constable would enjoy the same powers and privileges of a police officer (except powers only available to a constable in uniform). During armed operations SOCA refer to themselves as 'police' and have the word 'police' on their body armour to avoid confusion.
The Government plans to fold SOCA into a new National Crime Agency.
The UK Border Agency was formed on 1 April 2008 by a merger of the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA), UKvisas and the port of entry functions of HM Revenue and Customs. Employees of the UK Border Agency may be Immigration Officers and/or customs officers. They hold certain powers of arrest, detention and search in addition to those available to Any person in England and Wales or to any person in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Police-like powers are exercised by border officers and inland immigration enforcement officers. The agency also has a specialist criminal investigations directorate.
Since the creation of the UK Border Agency, staff of HMRC no longer perform frontline duties at ports of entry. The remainder of the staff with law enforcement powers employed by HMRC consists of the Criminal Investigation Branch, who, as customs officers, continue to exercise the powers granted under the Customs Management Acts.
These constabularies 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 constabularies, 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 constabularies 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.
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. There are 224 constables sworn in under this act. Serious or major incidents or crime generally become the responsibility of the local territorial police force.
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.
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.
These constabularies are responsible for enforcing bye-laws within the parks and open spaces of their respective local authorities in Greater London. Members of the constabularies are sworn as constables under section 18 of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government Provision Order Confirmation (Greater London Parks and Open Spaces) Act 1967. 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.
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. In the UK, they have limited powers over Service personnel, though they do not have primacy – this remains with the civil police. Members of military police services are not sworn as 'constables' in terms of criminal law and have no police powers in the civilian environment however Military Police officers can utilise powers under Sect 24(A) Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 which allows them to arrest any individual they have reasonable grounds to suspect is committing, has committed or is about to commit an indictable offence. 
Crown Dependencies are British possessions of the Crown, as opposed to overseas territories of the United Kingdom. They comprise the Channel Island Bailwicks of Jersey and Guernsey in the English Channel, and the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea.
The Isle of Man Constabulary (Meoiryn-Shee Ellan Vannin) is the organisation responsible for policing the Isle of Man, an island of 80,000 inhabitants situated equidistant from Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England in the Irish Sea.
There are certain instances where police forces of other nations operate in a limited degree in the United Kingdom:
In the majority of crime fiction, in print or on screen, set in the UK, real police forces are often used as the basis of the drama (though often set in fictional locations). However, there have been some works of fiction that have created their own police forces:
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