Officers of this force are sworn in as 'special constables' under section 79 of the Harbours, Docks, and Piers Clauses Act 1847. As a result, officers have the full powers of a constable on any land owned by the Belfast Harbour Authority and at any place within one mile (1.6 km) of any owned land. The extent of Belfast Harbour includes the George Best Belfast City Airport, though policing of the airport by the Harbour Police was discontinued in February 2009. The force comprised 28 constables, six sergeants and one chief officer in 2009. Whilst on duty, BHP officers are armed, which is believed to be a unique situation amongst the small number of privately owned ports police services across the United Kingdom.
The service may enforce the Belfast Harbour Commissioners' by-laws and consists of uniformed police officers and a CID section who provide 24-hour cover throughout the 2000-acre Harbour Estate, including almost 17 miles of roads. Their vehicles are equipped with Tracker stolen vehicle detection devices.