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Hertfordshire Constabulary

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Hertfordshire Constabulary
MottoCreating A Safer Hertfordshire[1]
Agency overview
Preceding agencies
  • Hertford Borough Police
  • St Albans Borough Police
Annual budget£294.2 million[4]
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionHertfordshire, England, UK
Map of police area
Size634 square miles (1,640 km2)
Population1.5 million
Legal jurisdictionEngland & Wales
Constituting instrument
General nature
Operational structure
Overseen by
HeadquartersWelwyn Garden City
Constables1,953 (of which 410 are special constables)[5]
Police Community Support Officers246[3]
Police and Crime Commissioner responsible
Agency executive
www.herts.police.uk Edit this at Wikidata

Hertfordshire Constabulary is the territorial police force responsible for policing the county of Hertfordshire in England. Its headquarters is in Welwyn Garden City. The current chief constable is Charlie Hall. As of March 2019, the force consists of over 1,900 police officers, 235 PCSOs, and over 1500 police staff, as well as being supported by more than 410 special constables.[6]


The constabulary was founded in 1841, under the County Police Act, five years after the Hertford Borough Police and St Albans Borough Police had been formed. In 1889, the Hertford Borough Police force was merged into Hertfordshire.

The first constables were working-class men and were paid at the level of an agricultural labourer. In Victorian times, officers were entitled to only one rest day in every four to six weeks and were entitled to only one week's unpaid annual leave a year. A ten-hour working day was the norm and no meal breaks were allowed.

There were strict constraints on an officer's private life too. For example, officers reportedly could not leave their homes without permission, and could only go out with their wives as long as they were not absent for more than two hours and someone was at home to take messages.[7]

St Albans Constabulary remained independent until 1947, but was then absorbed into the Hertfordshire Constabulary. Finally, in 2000 that the current force boundaries came into place with the addition of Hertsmere and Broxbourne, transferred from the Metropolitan Police.[8][9]

In 2006, proposals were made by Charles Clarke, the then Home Secretary, that would see the force merge with neighbour forces Bedfordshire Police and Essex Police to form a new strategic police force.[10] But in July 2006, Prime Minister Tony Blair signalled that police force mergers would not be forced through by the central government.[11] However, with the economic recession beginning in 2008 the force began working on collaboration with neighbouring forces, first joining with Bedfordshire Police and then Cambridgeshire Constabulary in a strategic alliance. The three forces formed joint units in counter terrorism, major crime, dogs, firearms, SOCO, roads policing, operation planning, civil contingencies, ICT and professional standards. Working collaboratively in this way protected local policing by local officers, but enabled specialist units to work across, and be paid for by, all three forces.

Further collaborative work is under way[when?] with call handling, control and dispatch, human resources and some "back-office" functions being examined for merging.[12] For the foreseeable future, the Constabulary looks likely to remain an independent force. Ultimately, the decision for any full merger of the three forces will be in the hands of the Police and Crime Commissioners, and thereby in turn, the public themselves.

Chief constables[edit]

  • 1841–1880 : Archibald Robertson[13]
  • 1880–1910 : H. Smith Daniell[13]
  • 1910–1928 : Alfred Letchworth Law[13]
  • 1928–1939 : George Thomas Knight[13]
  • 1939–1943 : Sydney Ewart Fairman[13]
  • 1943–1945 : Abel Camp[13]
  • 1945–1947 : Arthur Edwin Young[13]
  • 1947–1969 : Albert Frederick Wilcox[13]
  • 1969–1977 : Raymond N. Buxton[13]
  • 1977–1984 : Adrian Clissitt[13]
  • 1984–1990 : Trefor A. Morris[13]
  • 1990–1994 : Baden (Bill) Henry Skitt[13]
  • 1994–2000 : Peter S. Sharpe[13]
  • 2000–2004 : Paul Acres[13]
  • 2004–2011 : Frank Whiteley[14]
  • 2011–2016 : Andy Bliss[13]
  • 2016–present : Charlie Hall

Officers killed in the line of duty[edit]

The Police Roll of Honour Trust and Police Memorial Trust list and commemorate all British police officers killed in the line of duty. Since its establishment in 1984, the Police Memorial Trust has erected 50 memorials nationally to some of those officers. Since 1950, the following officers of Hertfordshire Constabulary are listed by the Trust as having been killed in the line of duty:[15]

Rank Name Age Year of death Circumstances
PC Frank Edwin Hulme 31 1958 Collapsed and died after a violent arrest.
PC Arthur William Burch 38 1960 PC Burch and PC Silcock were both killed while travelling in a patrol car which collided with a tanker, while pursuing a speeding car.
PC Anthony Richard Silcock 25 1960
WPC Mandy Dawn Rayner 18 1982 Fatally injured when her stationary vehicle was rammed during a police pursuit.
PC Francis John Mason 27 1988 Shot dead when, despite being off duty, he intervened in an armed robbery. Posthumously awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal.
WPC Jacqueline Ann Brown 23 1989 Fatally injured in a patrol car crash during a prisoner escort at Harpenden.
PC Ronald Raymond Hull 35 1989 Killed assisting at an accident in thick fog when struck by a speeding car.
PC Kevin John Church 46 2005 Killed in a motorcycle accident while on a plain clothes policing operation.

Organisation and structure[edit]

Local policing[edit]

A Peugeot 308 SW patrol vehicle at Elstree Aerodrome in 2024

Local policing is overseen by the Local Policing Command, headed by a chief superintendent. The county is sub-divided into ten divisions, also known as Community Safety Partnerships (CSP), which broadly correspond to the local Borough and Council areas. The ten CSPs, each headed by a chief inspector are: Watford, Three Rivers, Dacorum, Welwyn and Hatfield, St Albans, Hertsmere, East Herts, Broxbourne, Stevenage and North Herts. Each CSP has:

  • Five Intervention and Response Teams: Each team is headed by a sergeant and aligned to a shift pattern, there is always at least one team on duty at any time during the year. Intervention teams respond to 999 and non emergency calls and perform general patrol duties.
  • Neighbourhood Policing Teams (formerly Safety Neighbourhood Teams): Combined teams of PCs and PCSOs covering local and quality of life issues. Each Ward/Neighbourhood has at least one PC and PCSO to maintain an up-to-date knowledge of local issues and to address them. Each town is headed by a sergeant, with an inspector supervising on a CSP level.
  • Local Crime Unit: Team of Detectives with a remit covering burglaries to assaults, alternatively referred to as CID.

Specialist units[edit]

An Armed Response Vehicle seen in Borehamwood in 2017

Local policing is supplemented by an array of specialist units, some of which are collaborated with Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. These include:

  • Armed Policing Unit: Collaborated unit working across the three counties providing Armed Response Vehicles, crewed with authorised firearms officers to assist in the response to potentially dangerous incidents such as those involving firearms and knives. The unit also provides a specialist firearms officer capability for hostage rescue and close protection.
  • Dog Unit: Collaborated unit providing a 24/7 police dog service for tracking, searching and public order duties. The unit also provides pre-planned capabilities for explosive and drugs search.
  • Road Policing Unit: Collaborated unit, primarily patrol and respond to serious incidents on the motorway and other road networks. Other duties include responsibilities for taking over pursuits, traffic management and road death investigation.
  • Major Crime Unit: Collaborated unit, responsible for the investigation of murder, stranger rape and kidnap, amongst others.

Operational Support[edit]

  • Force Communications Room (FCR): Responsible for taking emergency and non-emergency calls and recording crime through call handling and the deployment and management of resources through Despatch and Control. The FCR receives an average of 3,000 calls and deals with over 1,000 incidents every day.

Notable incidents and investigations[edit]

Notable major incidents and investigations in which Hertfordshire Constabulary have directed or been involved include:

  • October 2000: Hatfield rail crash: A railway accident that caused four deaths and over 70 injuries. The accident exposed major stewardship shortcomings and regulatory oversight failings of Railtrack and ultimately triggered its partial re-nationalisation.
  • May 2002: Potters Bar Railway Crash: A railway accident that occurred when a train derailed at high speed, killing seven and injuring 76. Part of the train ended up wedged between the station platforms and building structures.
  • December 2005: The Buncefield fire: A major fire caused by a series of explosions at the Buncefield oil storage facility causing 45 injuries. It was the largest peacetime explosion since the Second World War and the plume of smoke could be seen from space.
  • March 2009: Murder of Jeffrey Howe: Also known as the Jigsaw Murder.
  • July 2011: Typing error causes false accusation of paedophilia: In April 2014, Hertfordshire Constabulary acknowledged that three years before while investigating distribution of more than 100 indecent images of children their mistyping of an IP address had led to arrest and charges against the wrong person, the male partner of a woman to whom the mistyped IP address happened to be allocated. In October 2016, Hertfordshire Constabulary settled out of court paying damages and legal costs.[16]
  • May 2012: Rothamsted Research protests: Approximately 200 protesters attempted to occupy an agricultural research centre that was conducting tests on genetically modified wheat.
  • July–August 2012: 2012 Summer Olympics: The Lee Valley White Water Centre, in Waltham Cross hosted the canoe slalom events of the 2012 Summer Olympics. Hertfordshire Constabulary deployed significant resources in support of the security of the White Water Centre, and supplied officers on mutual aid to the locations in London.
  • June 2013: Bilderberg meeting: Hertfordshire Constabulary deployed large numbers of resources, including officers from other forces on mutual aid, in an operation around the Bilderberg Group meeting at The Grove Hotel, Watford.
  • March and November 2021: Armed police raided wrong addresses on two separate operations.[17][18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Hertfordshire Constabulary - About Us". Archived from the original on 2009-01-18. Retrieved 2009-09-06.
  2. ^ "General Equality Report" (PDF). Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  3. ^ a b "Hertfordshire | Home Office". Retrieved 2009-06-06.
  4. ^ "Hertfordshire policing services protected as PCC's budget endorsed by panel". Retrieved 2024-05-17.
  5. ^ "Tables for 'Police workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2013". HM Government. Office for National Statistics. 31 March 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  6. ^ "General Duty Equality Report 2018 - 2019" (PDF).
  7. ^ "175 Years of Policing in Hertfordshire". Hertfordshire Constabulary. 12 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  8. ^ "Greater London Authority Act 1999: Section 323", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 1999 c. 29 (s. 323)
  9. ^ "The Greater London Authority Act 1999 (Commencement No. 1) Order: Section 4", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 1999/3271 (s. 4)
  10. ^ "Police forces 'to be cut to 24'". BBC News. 2006-03-20. Retrieved 2009-08-21.
  11. ^ "Blair accused of wasting police time on mergers", Daily Telegraph, 13 July 2006.
  12. ^ "Commissioner welcomes plan to share resources with Beds and Cambs". Hertfordshire Commissioner. 12 February 2014. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Chief Constables of the Hertfordshire Constabulary". Hertfordshire Constabulary. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  14. ^ "Frank Whiteley to remain Chief Constable of Herts for three more years". The Comet. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  15. ^ Police Roll of Honour Trust. "Police Roll of Honour Trust". policememorial.org.uk.
  16. ^ Champion, Matthew (2017-03-10). "This Is What It's Like To Be Wrongly Accused Of Being A Paedophile Because Of A Typo By Police". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 2017-03-13.
  17. ^ "Police raid wrong house in Borehamwood". Borehamwood Times. 11 March 2021. Retrieved 2021-11-19.
  18. ^ Adams, Matt (2021-11-18). "Dad's trauma after armed police raid his home by mistake". Herts Advertiser. Retrieved 2021-11-19; "Man shocked as armed police raid flat by mistake". BBC News. Retrieved 2021-11-19.

External links[edit]