Merseyside Police

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Merseyside Police
Agency overview
Preceding agency
Annual budget£307.3 million[1]
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionMerseyside, England, UK
England Police Forces (Merseyside).svg
Map of Merseyside Police's jurisdiction.
Size250 square miles (650 km2)
Legal jurisdictionEngland & Wales
Constituting instrument
General nature

Constables3,909 (of which 214 are special constables)[2]
Police Community Support Officerss407[1]
Police and Crime Commissioner responsible
Agency executive
  • Andy Cooke QPM[3], Chief Constable
Basic Command Units5

Merseyside Police is the territorial police force responsible for policing Merseyside in North West England. The service area is 647 square kilometres with a population of around 1.5 million. As of September 2017 the service has 3,484 police officers, 1,619 police staff, 253 police community support officers, 155 designated officers and 208 special constables.[4] In terms of officer numbers, the force is the 8th largest of the 48 police forces of the United Kingdom. However, in terms of geographic area of responsibility, it is the 3rd smallest of the territorial police forces after the City of London Police and Cleveland Police. The force is led by Chief Constable Andy Cooke.


The service came into being in 1974 when Merseyside was created, and is a successor to the Liverpool and Bootle Constabulary (itself formed in 1967 by a merger of the Liverpool City Police with the Bootle Borough Police), along with parts of Cheshire Constabulary and Lancashire Constabulary. A proposal to merge the force with the Cheshire Constabulary to form a strategic police force was made by the Home Secretary on 6 February 2006[5] but later abandoned.

Merseyside maintained in 2018 it could lose 300 officers, reducing the force to 3,172. This would be a 31% reduction since 2010 when there were 4,616 officers.[6]

Chief Constables[edit]


Since 15 November 2012 the Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner is Jane Kennedy. The police and crime commissioner is scrutinised by the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel, made up of elected councillors from the local authorities in Merseyside. Before November 2012 the Merseyside Police Authority was the police governance.


Merseyside Police is divided into five Basic Command Units (BCUs), one in each of the metropolitan boroughs that make up Merseyside. The BCUs are:


There are many different departments that make up Merseyside Police. These include the Matrix Disruption Team and, formerly, the Anti-Social Behaviour Taskforce. Chief Constable, Andy Cooke is concerned about budget cuts. Cooke stated, “The impact of the proposed changes on police officer pensions [forcing police forces to pay pensions out of their budget] cannot, and should not, be underestimated. It is incumbent on me to ensure that those who will make the final decisions in relation to the pension changes understand the crippling impact these changes will have on policing.”.”[12]

Matrix Disruption Team[edit]

The Matrix Disruption Team, led by a Chief Inspector, consists of syndicates made up of Inspectors, Sergeants and Constables. Each syndicate works with other Matrix units to provide the force with a level two response to gun crime, faction based criminality and cash-in-transit robberies. They are the first response to any major large-scale disorder within the Merseyside force area. These officers are specifically trained to deal with a variety of disorder situations, ranging from small protests to large-scale crowd disorder.

The Matrix team uses marked yellow Mercedes Sprinter vans with the slogan "Matrix - A force to be reckoned with" on the left of the vehicle.

Public order is one of the main functions of the department and therefore all officers receive the required training and are subjected to rigorous training scenarios. Matrix has a number of baton gun trained specialist officers: two Sergeants and ten Constables.

The Matrix team also have specialist search teams and rope access teams. The team also uses a marked Vauxhall Vectra Estate but this does not have any Matrix markings on, just the usual Merseyside livery.

Anti-Social Behaviour Taskforce[edit]

The Anti-Social Behaviour Taskforce dealt with people who were alleged to be creating anti-social behaviour. They also made raids for drugs and known offenders who were alleged to be lowering the standard of life for the community. They used yellow Mercedes Sprinter police vans (QV01, 02 & 03) with special markings on the side to show that they were used by the ASB Taskforce. They had different numbers on, which included QV0 + another digit (Units ranged from QV01 - QV05 with QV90 as the mobile police station). There was also an ASB Taskforce Peugeot Expert van (QV05) and a 2009 Ford Focus Estate (QV04).

The unit was initially known as Axis, but the use of this name was dropped around the end of 2007. It was publicly announced on 9 July 2010 that as a result of budget reductions, this department would be closed[13] and they disbanded in early 2011.

Mounted Section[edit]

Dog and Mounted Section building on Greenhill Road, Allerton

Merseyside Police Mounted Section has a long history. It is the oldest Provincial Mounted section, formed in 1886 as part of Liverpool City Police. It is an integral part of the Operational Support Unit, and is based at Greenhill Road, Allerton, Liverpool.

The mounted section is an operational specialist section with a staff of 1 Inspector, 2 Sergeants, 14 Constables, 6 civilian stable hands and 14 horses.

The section provides neighbourhoods with an alternative response to reduce the incidents of crime & disorder, using an intelligence-led approach, a tactical option in relation to public order & major incidents, as well as high visibility patrolling at football matches, rugby matches, race meetings and other special events.

Dog Section[edit]

Each area within the force has its own allocation of dogs and handlers who work alongside the neighbourhood patrol section.

There are currently 70 general purpose dogs in the force area, 16 of these have extended training for deployment alongside colleagues from the firearms department.

Merseyside Police, like most forces, rely on the German Shepherd Dog for their general purpose police dog work. All general purpose work involves the dogs' outstanding sense of smell, several hundred times superior to that of a human. The dog handler takes advantage of the dogs' natural abilities to search for and detect human scent.

The force also utilises both English Springer Spaniels and Labradors for their specialist detection roles; drugs, firearms, explosives and cadaver. These are the preferred breeds as they have extremely high energy levels and are able to search for long periods. The force currently operates 29 specialist dogs to carry out these detection roles.

The department uses vehicles including Ford Focus Estate, Vauxhall Astra Estate, Ford Transit and a Ford Mondeo Estate.

Air Support Group[edit]

Today all air support to policing in England and Wales is provided by the National Police Air Service.

Prior to this Merseyside Police Air Support Group was set up in late 1989 in response to an increase in the number of high speed vehicle pursuits that were occurring after burglaries had been committed outside of the force area. The unit was disbanded in July 2011 amid budget cuts with the loss of its helicopter and Woodvale base.

The early days saw the unit based at Liverpool Airport, but due to rising costs, the unit moved to RAF Woodvale and purpose built accommodation.

Prior to the establishment of NPAS Merseyside shared Air Support with Cheshire, Greater Manchester, North Wales and Lancashire as the North West Regional Air Support Group.


Merseyside Police Volvo.jpg

Merseyside Police has a wide fleet of vehicles. Scientific Support vehicles were usually Peugeot Expert vans equipped with a high intensity roof mounted light which allows forensic examinations to be completed in all lighting conditions. In 2007 and 2010 some of these were replaced by Ford Transit Connects meaning the Peugeot Experts are rare nowadays. Roads Policing Unit (RPU) vehicles are generally Vauxhall Vectras, Volvo V70 T5s, Volvo V70 S D5s, Land Rover Range Rovers, Ford Mondeo Estates, BMW 530ds, BMW 330ds and BMW X5s, the majority of which are mainly equipped with automatic number plate recognition (ANPR). Armed Response Vehicles (ARV) also use a wide range of vehicles, including Vauxhall Omega Estates, Vauxhall Vectra Estates, Volvo V50 Estates, Volvo V70 Estates, BMW X5s and Mercedes Vitos which are all equipped with ANPR.

The response/patrol cars for Merseyside Police are Hyundai i30 which replaced the Ford Focus, that are being phased out, in 2011.

The force also has yellow/orange liveried vans. These are mobile CCTV and patrolling vehicles and the Peugeot Expert van was generally the vehicle used, up until late 2008 where they started to be replaced by Ford Transit Connect vans. In addition, yellow Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans are the main protected vehicles. These are used by a wide number of departments, including Matrix and the Anti-Social Behaviour task force. The Mercedes Sprinter can utilise an onboard ANPR system, a grille that drops down onto the front windscreen to help protect the officers from thrown missiles at public order incidents, fire suppression equipment within the engine bay, perspex windows, a loudspeaker facility and finally a mounted spotlight on top of the lightbar to light up scenes at night. In late 2012 Merseyside Police took delivery of three OVIK PANGOLIN [14][15] Armoured Public Order Vehicles. These vehicles will be used from public order to counter terrorist operations. These vehicles are also in use with the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Off-road vehicles used by the force include Land Rover Defenders, scrambler motorbikes and quad bikes to target anti-social behaviour in parks. Unmarked police vehicles include BMW 3 series; Ford Galaxy; Vauxhall Omega.


As of 2017 Merseyside Police are one of the few British police forces to have retained the traditional white shirt and black tie or chequered cravat as part of the everyday patrol uniform. Officers on foot patrol wear the custodian helmet in the comb style, or bowler hat. A fluorescent overcoat is usually worn at night or when high-visibility is required, otherwise a black waterproof overcoat with reflective markings is worn. Officers travelling in vehicles wear the flat-cap or bowler and tend not to wear an overcoat. Additionally, all officers are provided with stab-vests, though on the Wirral these are not worn routinely by officers travelling in vehicles.

Officers in the specialist units wear tactical uniforms of the sort often used by everyday patrol officers in other forces, including combat trousers and black wicking polo shirts.


Merseyside Police is a partner in the following collaborations:

Officers killed in the line of duty[edit]

The Police Roll of Honour Trust lists and commemorates all British police officers killed in the line of duty. The Police Memorial Trust since its establishment in 1984 has erected over 38 memorials to some of those officers.

The following officers of Merseyside Police are listed by the Trust as having died during the time of their service, since the turn of the 20th century:[16]

  • PC Samuel Ballance, 1911 (died after operations to treat injuries sustained in earlier riot)
  • Sgt George Anderson, 1913 (died from injuries sustained when attacked by hostile crowd)
  • PC Thomas Ashcroft Grundy, 1914 (collapsed and died after an arrest)
  • PC Adam Mather, 1915 (collapsed and died after the violent arrest of two suspects)
  • PC Richard Haig Little, 1933 (committed suicide after suffering head injuries in an assault)
  • PC Benjamin Drinkwater, 1935 (while searching for suspects, died when a roof collapsed)
  • War Reserve PC Joseph Pickering, 1942 (fatally injured during an arrest)
  • PC Ronald Brown, 1962 (fell through roof while searching for suspected burglar)
  • PC Francis Knight, 1974 (killed in a motorcycle crash returning home from duty in stormy weather)
  • PC Raymond Davenport, 1981 (fatally injured when dragged by a stolen car while attempting to arrest the driver; posthumously awarded the Queen's Commendation for Brave Conduct)
  • PC Norman Harold Jones, 1983 (killed when struck by a car while at the scene of a motorway accident)
  • PC James William Byers, 1983 (killed when struck by a car while at the scene of a motorway accident)
  • PC William Marshall, 1986 (died as a result of internal injuries received during rioting in 1981)
  • PC Mark Paul Shelton, 1987 (fatally injured in a vehicle collision on a police motorcycle course)
  • Sgt Douglas Charles Beggs, 1987 (killed in a vehicle collision leaving the Mersey Tunnel while going off duty)
  • PC John Shevlin, 1997 (died following two years in a coma after his police car crashed)
  • PC Gary Clarke, 2001 (killed when he was struck by a car while cycling home from work)
  • PC David Thomas Shreeve, 2005 (killed in a motorway collision on a police motorcycle training course)
  • PC Neil Doyle, 2014 (killed off duty during police Christmas party after an assault in Liverpool city centre)
  • PC David Phillips, 2015 (died as a result of internal injuries received when hit by a stolen car he was attempting to stop in Wallasey)
  • PC Paul Briggs, 2017 (killed due a car travelling on the wrong side of the road which struck his motorcycle as he reported to duty in 2015, receiving extensive injuries from which he never recovered)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d
  2. ^ "Tables for 'Police workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2013". HM Government. Office for National Statistics. 31 March 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Merseyside Police Welcomes New Chief Constable Andy Cooke". Merseyside Police website. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  4. ^ "Police workforce, England and Wales: 30 September 2017". GOV.UK. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  5. ^ "Police mergers outlined by Clarke". BBC News. 26 February 2006. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  6. ^ Police chiefs warn of fewer officers after Treasury shrinks budgets further The Guardian
  7. ^ "Temporary Chief Constable takes up the baton". Merseyside Police website. Retrieved 1 November 2009.
  8. ^ "Merseyside Police chief constable Sir Jon Murphy to retire". BBC News. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  9. ^ "Merseyside Police's new chief constable Jon Murphy faces up to budget challenge". Liverpool Daily Post. Retrieved 24 December 2009.
  10. ^ "Police and Crime Panel confirm Merseyside Police's next Chief Constable". Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner website. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  11. ^ "Andy Cooke to be Merseyside Police's new Chief Constable". BBC News. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  12. ^ Police chiefs warn of fewer officers after Treasury shrinks budgets further The Guardian
  13. ^ "Merseyside police could lose up to 800 officers in budget slash". Liverpool Echo. 9 July 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  14. ^ "Armoured vehicles designers, armoured vehicle manufacturers, Armoured Vehicles, Police Equipment, special vehicles, specialist vehicles, commercial vehicles and truck bodies. Coachbuilders and armourers".
  15. ^ "TMV - a new dimension in all-terrain mobility from oil exploration to defence - Home".
  16. ^ "Police Roll Of Honour Trust".

External links[edit]