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  • UK Police Forces

    I was checking out UK Police Forces on and there are two Forces that appear to have a different role than the other Police Forces, in that their duties seem to be more of a Security Force than a Police Force.

    Ministry of Defence Police - Responsible for the security of Defence Establishments.....

    UK Atomic Energy Authority Constabulary - Responsible for the security of Atomic Energy Establishments.....

    Do these two Forces have anything in common with the other UK Police Forces? For example do they have arrest powers outside of their establishments. Could they intercept a vehicle for a traffic offence in a public place or say arrest an offender for theft from a shop etc? Their uniform appears to be the same as any other UK Police Force, except of course for the Badge.

    Recruitment - Is the recruitment and entry qualifications to these two forces the same as for entry to all other UK Police Forces. Perhaps the MOD Police would give preference to ex Military?

    I would imagine that these two Forces by the nature of their dutes would not attract young applicants seeking a career in fighting crime and would therefore mabybe attract the more mature recruit such as ex military?

    This is really just a general knowledge question, but what better place to ask it than here?


  • #2

    We have establishments of both MOD and UK Atomic Energy Constabulary officers in our police area. We also have the British Transport Police - BTP who are another national non Home Office force. BTP are responsible for policing the railway property, and they are the force with whom we have the most contact.

    These forces would not normally operate in public places, and certainly would not be carrying out traffic enforcement on public highways.

    I certainly wouldn't expect them to deal with a shoplifter, with the exception of BTP if the theft occurred on railway premises.

    The BTP are probably the closest to a Home Office force as amoungst other things they police the London Underground, and large railway premises both in the Capital and throughout the country. As such the BTP get to deal with a wide variety of offences, and are also responsible for investigating accidents on the network.

    I would imagine that the MOD police would attract ex-service personnel, but so do all the UK police forces.

    If you take our police area which can be found on the website look on the left hand side of England just above Wales and immediately below Cumbria and you should find us; we are one of 43 Home Office forces responsible for policing England & Wales. The non Home Office forces mentioned are maintained primarily to police their limited jurisdictions we police the rest.



    • #3

      Not on the website, there are innumerable other police forces/comstabularies in the UK. Off the top of my head:

      Kensington and Chelsea Parks Police
      Wandsworth Parks Police
      Royal Botanic Gardens Constabulary
      Dover Harbour Police
      Mersey Tunnels Police
      Tees and Hartlepool Port Police
      Royal Parks Constabulary
      Smithfield Market Police

      All are maintained by a local authority/council of some description. Their jurisdiction is very very small, but most attend some sort of national police training. Not all of them have marked cars/blue lights/batons/cuffs etc. And these are just some of many local authority forces in the UK.

      They all have their place, though, and a couple of years ago, the Wandsworth Parks Police (who drive marked vehicles with clear lightbars(!)) stopped a van in Battersea Park in the middle of the night. Inside were several neo-Nazi types along with a quantity of weapons, including at least one gun.
      'Trust no-one'


      • #4

        Up until the late 1960s there were well over 120 separate forces in England & Wales. Prior to 1st April 1969, the county of Lancashire for example not only had the Lancashire Constabulary, but also around 13 Borough forces who policed the bigger towns and cities.

        Some city forces survived until 1st April 1974, when we had one of our major local government re-organisations which produced, more or less, the current 43 forces. The only city force to survive was and is the City of London Police. Prior to 1st April 1974, our airports were also policed by a separate force.

        Urban Jedi has produced a very comprehensive list of non-Home Office forces. I seem to think there may be other Port police forces.
        The following Crown dependencies also have their own forces: - the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.



        • #5
          While I'mnot sure we need to take it as far as the UK has, I think the British policing system makes more sense than allowing every municipality to organize its own police force of whatever size and capabilities. One fifteen mile stretch of highway in an adjacent county is policed by fifteen city, county, state, and federal police forces. Granted, things work better than one would expect, but Balkanization of law enforcement is not the most efficient method of delivering services.
          John from Maryland


          • #6
            Originally posted by John from Maryland
            While I'mnot sure we need to take it as far as the UK has, I think the British policing system makes more sense than allowing every municipality to organize its own police force of whatever size and capabilities. One fifteen mile stretch of highway in an adjacent county is policed by fifteen city, county, state, and federal police forces. Granted, things work better than one would expect, but Balkanization of law enforcement is not the most efficient method of delivering services.
            While combining forces makes sense from an efficiency standpoint, it will have fierce opposition in the United States. Many here see "force rationalisation" as simply a step towards a National Police Force, which is highly opposed on this side of the pond. For one thing, nobody outside the Federal Government wants to be run by a Federal Government that has long been viewed as an inefficient, lumbering, bumbling bureaucracy, and is increasingly being viewed (due to Waco and Ruby Ridge, and recently the "Patriot Act") as a very serious threat to civil liberties.

            I think the best solution is to let those who WANT to combine forces be allowed to do so, without being FORCED to do it as has been the case in the UK.


            • #7
              The forces here were reorganised several years ago so as to be more efficient and even a couple of years ago the Mets borders changed to reflect the borough policing changes. Try to emphasise the "FORCED to change like the UK" sounds to me like you are implying some sinister force at work and reigniting the old" we are more free than you" argument.
              Policemen the world over are resistent to change but I suspect that the "civil liberties" argument is just a screen for those big fish in small ponds who dont want to loose their empires by being merged with larger forces.


              • #8
                When I first joined the police 20 years ago, I was posted to a large North West(English) seaside resort with 3 piers and a large tower. At this time, probably 40% of the officers I worked with had been members of the former County Borough force, that had been amalgamated with the County Constabulary in April 1969. Many of them were clearly resentful of this fact, and were fiercely loyal to their roots.

                It was clear speaking to these officers, that some of the County Boroughs doggedly opposed the amalgamation with the surrounding County Force. However the amalgamations took place. With the exception of the Metropolitan and City of London Police, the Home Secretary can alter a forces boundary or enforce an amalgamation almost at the stroke of a pen.

                The present Labour Government is talking about introducing Regional Assemblies in England, no doubt if this happends so will the clamour for regional forces.



                • #9
                  I'm somehow hard-pressed to see that a regional or county police department is a short-step away from from a unitary national police force. A significant number of U.S. police agencies have less than twenty officers. Even if it were constitutional, I don't see nationalization of policing as at all likely.

                  Of course, there is the argument that the proliferation of tiny police agencies is one reason for increasing the size of federal and state investigative agencies. Small agencies simply don't have the resources for major cases or tactical operations. If local law enforcement can't provide the expertise or resources, state or federal agencies will fill the gap.
                  John from Maryland


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Leigh Harrington
                    Try to emphasise the "FORCED to change like the UK" sounds to me like you are implying some sinister force at work and reigniting the old" we are more free than you" argument.
                    I'm not implying "New World Order" or any sort of conspiracy. I'm just stating how people feel on this side of the pond.

                    Americans have always had a distrust in the Federal Government; that was rooted back when we had to swear allegiance to London. That issue reared its ugly head again in the Civil War. If you've followed this board long enough and closely enough, you'll see evidence that this distrust is still every much in place.

                    The Federal Government has long been viewed as a inefficient, inept, and depending on your point of view, corrupt. Federal law enforcement especially so; the distrust is particularly the greatest between local/state law enforcement, and the Federal government's most high-profile law enforcement agency, the FBI. When locals refer to them as the "Fumbling, Bumbling Idiots", it's due to that high level of mistrust.

                    Going back to the force rationalisation issue, another reason why it would be opposed here is because it means loss of local control. Frankly, I do not want my force to be "amalgamated" with the LAPD or Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. In the case of the former, I do not want to be associated with its many recent scandals; in the case of the latter, I feel that the specific needs of my small agency will get overlooked in an agency that currently has nearly 10,000 sworn deputies.

                    That said, there have been areas where forces were amalgamated, albeit to a smaller scale than in the UK. The current Las Vegas Metro Police is an example of such an amalgamation. In some areas, cities and towns have elected to NOT have their own police force and instead contract with the county sheriff or state police for their policing services. But the difference here is that it was done by the choice of the locals, and not forced upon them by a distant governmental entity.
                    Last edited by Sig220Man; 07-22-2003, 06:21 PM.


                    • #11
                      I agree with the Sig on this one and will go one further and make a prediction. There will NEVER be even one US state whith is policed by a single state police agency, let alone a National Police Force in America. Never. Social, political and historical influences are totally opposed to it.

                      In any event UK police "services" seem to me to be overly reliant on "community policing" and "customer service" philosophies rather than utilizing simple law enforcement strategies. This is the way the English public/politicians/courts seem to want it, and you can keep it. The US could never be policed in that fashion as there would be anarchy.
                      Last edited by ; 07-28-2003, 01:32 AM.


                      • #12
                        I agree, there will never be a National or State police in the US and its higly unlikely here too as there is little point to it. I cant see any of our forces, sorry "services" getting any bigger than they are at present although they are looking at centralising more specialist detective/specialist branches.
                        Our policing is based on "consent of the public" but that is a rather loosely based idea, if you do wrong you dont have to consent to be arrested etc. Its more an idea that the policing is for the public rather than being imposed on the public and in reality that is the way it is in most free societies. No policing in the US is by force is it, you work with the public for the public.
                        I have noticed the common thread of hostility towards your own govt, we aren't all over enamoured with the govt here either but don't seem to have the same concerns over big brother govt that you do.
                        As police officers we swear allegiance to the Monarch, not London or the Govt and our uniform headwear badges by and large carry royal insignia not govt ones.
                        Northern Ireland is the only province with a single force covering it, the other countries are divided into counties as a rule and Northern Ireland is the only regularly armed service due to terrorism and sectarian violence being what it is there.


                        • #13

                          I'm not so sure about forces not getting any bigger, outside of the large metropolitan forces we still have some pretty small outfits.

                          Mr Prescott, our pugalistic Deputy Prime Minister, is dead set on holding referendums to set up regional governments in the north of England. Whilst policing is not mentioned as one of their responsibilities, in my opinion there is no way that these proposed new regional politicians would be able to resist the temptation of policing being directly under their control.



                          • #14
                            As a retired Federal Officer, let me add my opinion. Centralized forces are a bad idea, and working within one for 26 years gives me plenty of reason to say that. From the important, as in the FBI bureaucrats who would not let field agents follow up on leads that could have inhibited 9-1-1, to the mundane, Washington cannot see beyond the beltway. In fact, we claimed there is no oxygen inside the beltway around DC, as only the brain dead could come out with some of their decisions.

                            Case in point: I worked on the Mexican border, sometimes tracking smugglers on foot. HQ in Washington came out with an order that we to wear suits at all times, unless working undercover! I'm out in the desert, with jeans, a polo shirt, and boots, and some moron wants me in a suit? Where would I carry my GPS, water, rifle, etc.??
                            Or, when we got new vehicles with carpeting but plastic seats! It's 120 degrees (F), and I'm supposed to slide my butt onto a plastic seat? They were/are clueless!
                            In law enforcement, one size does NOT fit all, and a nationalized police force would be far too subject to political input from people too far removed from the "consumers". I like the fact that I can drop into the local Sheriff's office and see the man I may vote for or against, the final voice in how my county is policed. No chance for a faceless bureaucrat to tell him what we need, or can have. And if he is unresponsive to the public, he loses his job!
                            Local control is the way to go!
                            "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
                            John Stuart Mill


                            • #15
                              The UK is about the size of the state of Oregan, and is made up of 4 separate countries with 3 different jurisdictions. So I think the nearest you could get to a national force would be one for England & Wales, one for Scotland and of course the PSNI who are currently the sole force in Northern Ireland.

                              That said, I cannot really see the Metropolitan Police being incorporated in any national setup due to it's size and unique responsibilities. However I can certainly see us moving towards regional forces, if the government gets it's wishes to set up elected regional government in England. Scotland already has 8 regional forces and we already have some national squads such as NCS the National Crime Squad.



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