Civil Nuclear Constabulary

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Civil Nuclear Constabulary
Abbreviation CNC
Cnc logo1.jpg
Logo of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary.
Agency overview
Formed 2005
Annual budget £57m (entire Civil Nuclear Police Authority)[1]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
National agency
(Operations jurisdiction)
United Kingdom
Map of CNC Divisions
Legal jurisdiction UK civil nuclear sites
General nature
Specialist jurisdiction
Operational structure
Headquarters Culham
Sworn members 750[2]
Agency executive Brigadier Sir Michael Griffith, Chief Constable
Divisions 3
Stations 16

The Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) (Welsh: Heddlu Sifil Niwclear) is a special 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.[3]

The CNC was established on 1 April 2005,[4] replacing the former Atomic Energy Authority Constabulary established in 1955. The CNC does not guard the United Kingdom's nuclear weapons; this role is the responsibility of the British Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defence Police.


The CNC operates with the majority of its constables acting as Authorised Firearms Officers.[5] Many of the officers can be seen patrolling their respective sites carrying firearms such as assault rifles and pistols.

The core weapon system for CNC AFOs is the Heckler & Koch G36, as well as this all officers are equipped with Glock 17 sidearms. All officers are additionally equipped with less-lethal weapons for use against threats that do not justify a firearms response. Such options include CS gas, Taser, ASP and plastic bullets.

The uniform of the force is similar to that of other police forces in the UK. The current uniform replaced the traditional Metropolitan Police-style uniforms in July 2008. Officers wear body armour similar to that of other UK Police Authorised Firearms Officers. CNC officers are also trained in the use of CBRN equipment.

The force uses a large number of Ford S-Max patrol and response vehicles, as well as a number of Mitsubishi Pajero/Shogun patrol vehicles. The force also runs a number of BMW X5s for use as escort vehicles. The vehicle fleet is managed by the Chiltern Transport Consortium, led by Thames Valley Police. All are registered with 'OU' vehicle registration plate area prefixes.


The role of the CNC is to provide security for civil nuclear establishments and materials, throughout the United Kingdom.[6][7] The Constabulary is established in Chapter 3, sections 51–71, of the Energy Act 2004.[8] The act sets up the Civil Nuclear Police Authority and the position of Chief Constable, defines the powers of members of the constabulary, mandates that Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary must inspect the force and amends several other acts. It falls under the remit of the Department of Energy and Climate Change instead of the Home Office.

The CNC's Annual Report (page 19) states that "... the crime dealt with by officers at civil nuclear sites remains low in volume. The management and investigation of crime does not form any part of the Constabulary's mission statement"[9] Whilst the CNC are a police force, this acknowledgement would suggest the role of a CNC Police Officer is that of providing armed security, rather than primarily being concerned with law enforcement.

During the year 2010-11, the CNC made 12 arrests,[10] although 2 of those people were de-arrested at the scene (one when it was realised that the person was not wanted on warrant after all and another where it was decided that police action was not appropriate in relation to an alleged assault).

Since 1 October 2012 the Chief Constable of the CNC has been Michael Griffiths.[11]

Unlike the majority of the British police territorial forces, some CNC officers are routinely armed while carrying out duties. CNC officers also operate the armament on board the ships of the company Pacific Nuclear Transport Limited,[12] which specialise in transporting spent nuclear fuel and reprocessed uranium on behalf of the British Nuclear Fuels organisation.[13] Such ships have an onboard escort of armed police.[14][15]

The CNC is authorised to carry out covert intelligence operations against anti-nuclear protesters. In July 2009 Judge Christopher Rose said the CNC's "approach to covert activity is conspicuously professional". He found that the system for storing the intelligence gained from informers was "working well" and that "senior officers regard covert surveillance as a long-term requirement".[16]

Legal jurisdiction[edit]

CNC police officers have the same powers as regular police officers, whilst within their limited jurisdiction which is set out in the Energy Act 2004. The act sets out the legal jurisdiction of the CNC police officers as being:

  • Any place when escorting nuclear materials in transit
  • Any place when pursuing or detaining subjects who have unlawfully removed or interfered with materials guarded by the CNC, or have been reasonably suspected of being guilty of doing so
  • Civil nuclear sites
  • Land around such sites up to 5 km from the boundary
  • Shipyards when safeguarding such nuclear materials


Funding comes from the companies which run 17 nuclear plants in the UK. Around a third is paid by the private consortium managing Sellafield, which is largely owned by American and French firms. Nearly a fifth of the funding is provided by British Energy, the privatised company owned by EDF. In June 2009 the EDF's head of security complained that the force had overspent its budget "without timely and satisfactory explanations to us". The industry acknowledges it is in regular contact with the CNC and the security services.[17] .

Mutual aid[edit]

The CNC is one of the three special police forces of the United Kingdom, the others being the British Transport Police, and Ministry of Defence Police. Unlike these other two forces, the CNC were not included in the provisions setting out 'extended jurisdiction' as per the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001.[18] This allows officers of the MDP and BTP to act outside their natural jurisdiction in certain circumstances.

The CNC is also not included in mutual aid provisions provided by the Police Act 1996 sections 24[19] & 98[20] (mutual aid between police forces of England & Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and BTP) or Ministry of Defence Police Act 1987 section 3a[21] (mutual aid from MDP). However section 59[22] of the Energy Act 2004 allows CNC officers to act outside their natural jurisdiction in mutual aid situations under agreements between the Chief Officer of the CNC and the Chief Officer of a local police force.

In the summer of 2005 officers of the CNC were part of the massive police operation involving nearly all police forces of the United Kingdom in connection with the G8 conference near Gleneagles, Scotland.[23]

On 2 June 2010 CNC officers assisted Cumbria Constabulary in the manhunt for the gunman Derrick Bird. Along his route across West Cumbria, Bird killed 12 people and injured 25.[24]


The CNC operates at a total of 16 sites in England, Scotland and Wales (there are no relevant nuclear sites in Northern Ireland). Of these, six are classed as Operational Units, where an ordinary police presence is maintained, while nine are Support Units, which have an overt armed police presence.

In 2007, the CNC adopted a structure similar to other police forces when it introduced three Basic Command Units, each headed by a Superintendent, based around the geographical locations it polices:

  • BCU Scotland - responsible for nuclear sites in Scotland; Chapelcross, Dounreay, Hunterston, Torness
  • BCU North - responsible for nuclear sites in the north of England and Wales; Capenhurst, Hartlepool, Heysham, Sellafield, Springfields, Wylfa
  • BCU South - responsible for nuclear sites in the south of England; Culham, Dungeness, Harwell, Hinkley Point, Oldbury, Sizewell

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "What's the Role of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary - Where Do They Work?". Civil Nuclear Constabulary. 25 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  3. ^ ss.56 and 198 Energy Act 2004
  4. ^ "What's the Background to the CNC Organisation?". Civil Nuclear Constabulary. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  5. ^ "What do the CNC do?". Civil Nuclear Constabulary. 
  6. ^ Energy Act 2004
  7. ^ "Our Role". Civil Nuclear Constabulary. 20 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  8. ^ "Energy Act 2004". HMSO. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  9. ^ CNC Annual Report 2011-12
  10. ^ FOI Disclosure
  11. ^ "CNC Organisation Chart 1 August 2013" (PDF). Civil Nuclear Constabulary. 1 August 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  12. ^ "PNTL Fleet". Pacific Nuclear Transport Limited. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  13. ^ "Nuclear fuel ship docks in Japan". BBC News. 27 September 1999. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  14. ^ Brown, Paul (20 January 1999). "Nuclear fuel ships to be armed with heavy guns". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  15. ^ "UK British nuclear fuel ships armed". BBC News. 8 July 1999. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  16. ^ Secret files reveal covert network run by nuclear police
  17. ^ Secret files reveal covert network run by nuclear police
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ Bowcott, Owen; Syal, Rajeev; Lewis, Paul; Davies, Caroline (4 June 2010). "Cumbria shootings: A frantic pursuit before police found the killer's body". The Guardian (London).