- Chief Constable
Chief Constable is the title given to the
chief police officerof every territorial police force in the United Kingdom except the two responsible for Greater London, as well as the chief officers of the British Transport Police, Ministry of Defence Police, Civil Nuclear Constabulary, and Isle of Man Constabulary. The chiefs of some police departments in Canada also hold the title.
The population of areas for which chief constables are responsible varies from a few hundred thousand to two or three million and it is commonplace for chief constables for larger force areas to be drawn from the chief constables of smaller forces. A chief constable has no superior officer, but is responsible to the local
The title is a derived from the original local
parish constables of the eighteenth century and earlier. " Constable" and " Constabulary" were terms adopted in an attempt to provide a historical link with the older forces and to emphasise local control. Much of the debate about policing in the early nineteenth century (when modern police forces were introduced in Britain) concerned fears that the new forces might become paramilitaryagents of central government control. To this day other British police ranks, such as Inspectorand Superintendent, are determinedly non-paramilitary – only Police Sergeants hold a quasi-military rank and even then the term Sergeant had long existed as a non-military officer of subordinate rank.
The Chief Constable's badge of rank, worn on the
epaulettes, consists of crossed tipstaves in a wreath, surmounted by a crown, similar to the insignia of a Lieutenant-General in the British Army. [ [http://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/information/students_researchers/ranks.aspx Police Ranks and Epaulette] , Avon and Somerset Constabulary website]
The Chief Constable is assisted by a
Deputy Chief Constable(DCC) and one or more Assistant Chief Constables (ACC). The Chief Constable, DCC and ACCs are collectively known as the "Chief Officers" of a force and belong to the Association of Chief Police Officers(ACPO).
County police forces in the UK
County Police Act 1839gave the counties of England and Walesthe opportunity to establish full-time police forces, headed by a Chief Constable who was appointed by the justices of the peaceof the county. The first county to implement this was Wiltshire, which appointed its first chief constable on 28 November 1839. [ [http://www.wiltshire.police.uk/history/1839.asp Wiltshire Constabulary History] , Wiltshire Police website] Other counties followed this pattern; for instance, Essexappointed its first Chief Constable on 11 February 1840. [ [http://www.essex.police.uk/offbeat/o_mu_25.php The Making of a Chief Constable] , Essex Police website]
London, the Metropolitan Policeand the City of London Policeare led by Commissioners rather than Chief Constables. Chief Constable was, however, a lower rank in the Metropolitan Police which existed between 1886 and 1946.
In 1869, the divisions of the Metropolitan Police were grouped into four Districts, and four new officers called District Superintendents were appointed to command them, ranking between the Divisional Superintendents and the two Assistant Commissioners. These officers were to be generally military officers, civil servants or lawyers who were directly appointed to the rank. This caused a certain amount of concern, since some saw it as the creation of an "officer class" for the police, which had always been resisted.
In 1886, the rank of District Superintendent was renamed Chief Constable, as it was decided that it could be confused with the Divisional Superintendents. Unlike their superiors, Chief Constables were actually sworn into the office of
constable, hence the name. A fifth Chief Constable was later created in the Criminal Investigation Department. The rank became junior to the new rank of Deputy Assistant Commissionerin 1919.
In 1933, the Districts were taken over by Deputy Assistant Commissioners, with the Chief Constables remaining as their deputies. In 1946, the rank was renamed
The rank badge of a Metropolitan Police Chief Constable consisted of crossed tipstaves in a wreath.
Liverpool City Police
The Chief Officer of
Liverpool City Policewas traditionally known as the Head Constableinstead of the Chief Constable. This title was used until the early 1920s, when Chief Constable was adopted.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.