Home Office radio

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Home Office radio was the VHF and UHF radio service provided by the British government to its prison service, emergency service (police, ambulance and fire brigade) and Home Defence agencies from around 1939. The departmental name was the Home Office Directorate of Telecommunications, commonly referred to as DTELS.[1]

Prior to this, contact by emergency service personnel with their control rooms was made by telephone. Then in 1922 the Metropolitan Police began to install radio receivers in their vehicles. Due to telegraphy only being one way, take up was slow. By the 1970s most police and fire services had their own dedicated radio setups, and personal radios (referred to as PRs) were beginning to be rolled out to the police in most towns and cities. Home Office radio was furthered towards the end of the Cold War, with having a communications network that was independent of the then Post Office deemed a necessity should Britain come under attack from nuclear weapons.[2]

Radio schemes run by DTELS consisted of ten wireless depots throughout England, Scotland and Wales, supplemented further by around sixty outstations.[3] Ten regions were designated along the same regional boundaries as the Home Defence were, and within each region was a wireless telegraph station.[4] The Home Office allocated four-character call signs beginning with M2 to every police and fire service, with respective control rooms starting and ending every transmission with said call sign:


England - Regions 2 to 10 excluding 8,

Scotland - Region 1,

Wales - Region 8.

Police radio codes[edit]

PNC code HO Radio code Police force
52 QP Avon and Somerset Constabulary
40 VA Bedfordshire Police
93 BX British Transport Police
35 VB Cambridgeshire Constabulary
84 AH Police Scotland (formerly Central Scotland Police)
07 BA Cheshire Constabulary
48 CP City of London Police
17 LZ Cleveland Police
03 BB Cumbria Constabulary
30 NA Derbyshire Constabulary
50 QB Devon and Cornwall Constabulary
55 QC Dorset Police
70 AJ Police Scotland (formerly Dumfries & Galloway Constabulary)
11 LA Durham Constabulary
63 WH Heddlu Dyfed Powys Police
42 VG Essex Police
78 ZT Police Scotland (formerly Fife Constabulary)
53 QL Gloucestershire Constabulary
82 UB Police Scotland (formerly Grampian Police)
06 CK Greater Manchester Police
61 WE Heddlu Gwent Police
44 HC Hampshire Constabulary
41 VH Hertfordshire Constabulary
16 XH Humberside Police
46 KA Kent Police
04 BD Lancashire Constabulary
33 NL Leicestershire Constabulary
32 NC Lincolnshire Police
76 ZH Police Scotland (formerly Lothian & Borders Police)
05 CH Merseyside Police
01 MP Metropolitan Police (also 02)
36 VK Norfolk Constabulary
34 NG Northamptonshire Police
10 LB Northumbria Police
12 XN North Yorkshire Police
60 WA Heddlu North Wales Police
31 NH Nottinghamshire Police
62 WL Heddlu South Wales Police
14 XS South Yorkshire Police
21 YF Staffordshire Police
74 AS Police Scotland (formerly Strathclyde Police)
37 VL Suffolk Constabulary
45 HJ Surrey Police
47 KB Sussex Police
80 ZS Police Scotland (formerly Tayside Police)
38 HB Thames Valley Police
23 YJ Warwickshire Police
22 YK West Mercia Police
20 YM West Midlands Police
13 XW West Yorkshire Police
54 QJ Wiltshire Constabulary



In 1991 the Directorate of Telecommunications officially changed its name to DTELS and four years later became a private sector company following a trade sale to National Transcommunications Limited (NTL).

By the last quarter of 2006 police forces had migrated radio networks from the UHF frequencies to TeTRa on the Airwave network, followed by ambulance services in 2007 and fire services in 2010.[7] Airwave now has a nationwide network of more than 3,000 sites and provides secure voice and data communications to over 300 public safety organisations.[8]