List of law enforcement agencies in the United Kingdom, Crown dependencies and British Overseas Territories

Law enforcement
in the United Kingdom
Types of agency
Types of agent
Metropolitan Police officers on crowd control after England loses to Portugal, 1 July 2006.

This is a list of law enforcement agencies in the United Kingdom, Crown dependencies and British Overseas Territories. There are a number of agencies that participate in law enforcement in the United Kingdom which can be grouped into three general types:

The majority of law enforcement in the United Kingdom is carried out by territorial police forces that police the general public and their activities. The other types of agencies are concerned with policing of more specific matters.

Over the centuries there has been a wide variation in the number of police forces in the United Kingdom, with a large number now no longer in existence.

National law enforcement

Bodies with police powers

These bodies operate in more than one country of the United Kingdom. The remit of some of the forces is further limited to the areas that they police, such as railway infrastructure. The Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 gave the British Transport Police and Ministry of Defence Police a limited, conditional authority to act outside of their primary jurisdiction if the situation requires urgent police action and the local force are not readily available, or if they believe that there is risk to life or limb, or where they are assisting the local force.

Government agencies
  • National Crime Agency (NCA) – An agency that leads UK-wide activities to combat high-level crime such as organised crime. In addition, the NCA acts as the UK point of contact for foreign law enforcement agencies. It replaced the Serious Organised Crime Agency in 2013.

Additionally, the following three government agencies are defined in legislation as " special police forces". As these forces are responsible to specific areas of infrastructure, they do not answer to the Home Office, but instead to the government department responsible for the area they police. All three forces do voluntarily submit themselves to HMIC inspection:

  • Ministry of Defence Police – A police force tasked with providing armed security, uniformed policing, and investigative services to Ministry of Defence installations throughout the United Kingdom. [1]
  • Civil Nuclear Constabulary – A 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. [2]
  • British Transport Police (Great Britain) – A police force responsible for providing law enforcement at certain railways and light-rail systems in Great Britain. [3]
Bodies hosted by the Association of Chief Police Officers
Bodies hosted by territorial police forces
  • National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit – A police unit that is part of the Metropolitan Police Service Specialist Operations Directorate, tasked with coordinating police response to domestic extremism across the United Kingdom.
  • Protection Command – A police unit that is part of the Metropolitan Police Service Specialist Operations Directorate, responsible for providing protective security to the government/diplomatic community and the Royal Family within the United Kingdom.
  • National Fraud Intelligence Bureau – A police unit hosted by the City of London Police, tasked with combating economic crime throughout the United Kingdom.
  • National Ballistics Intelligence Service (Great Britain) – A police unit hosted by West Midlands Police, tasked with gathering and disseminating fast time intelligence on the criminal use of firearms across Great Britain.
  • National Police Air Service (England and Wales) – A police aviation service hosted by West Yorkshire Police, that provides centralised air support to the 43 territorial police forces in England and Wales.

Bodies with limited executive powers

These organisations are not police forces but do have similar powers to that of the police with the exception that they cannot arrest a person nor make forcible entry without a warrant.

  • Border Force is a part of the Home Office, responsible for frontline border control operations at air, sea and rail ports in the United Kingdom. Employees of Border Force may be Immigration Officers and/or customs officers. They hold certain powers of arrest, detention and search in addition to those available to Any person [4] in England and Wales or to any person in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Police-like powers are exercised by border officers and inland immigration enforcement officers. The agency also has a specialist criminal investigations directorate.
  • Immigration Enforcement
  • Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. Since the creation of the UK Border Agency (now Border Force), staff of HMRC no longer perform frontline duties at ports of entry. The remainder of the staff with law enforcement powers employed by HMRC consists of the Criminal Investigation Branch, who, as customs officers, continue to exercise the powers granted under the Customs Management Acts and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 including arrest.
  • Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (Great Britain)
  • Driver and Vehicle Agency (Northern Ireland)
  • The Independent Police Complaints Commission (England and Wales) investigates complaints against police officers and staff of the police forces in England and Wales, [5] and staff of HM Revenue and Customs, the National Crime Agency in England and Wales and the UK Border Agency. Certain investigators of the IPCC, for the purposes of the carrying out of an investigation and all purposes connected with it, have all the powers and privileges of constables throughout England and Wales and the territorial waters. [6]

Bodies with solely investigatory powers

The use of investigatory powers is controlled by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. Up to 792 public authorities have powers that are restricted by RIPA. [7]