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Chief Constable is the rank used by the chief police officer of every territorial police force in the United Kingdom except for the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police, as well as the chief officers of the three 'special' national police forces, the British Transport Police, Ministry of Defence Police, and Civil Nuclear Constabulary. The title is also held by the chief officers of the principal Crown Dependency police forces, the Isle of Man Constabulary, States of Guernsey Police Service, and States of Jersey Police. The title was also held, ex officio, by the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers under the Police Reform Act 2002.[1] It was also the title of the chief officer of the Royal Parks Constabulary until this agency was disbanded in 2004.

Throughout the United Kingdom and Crown Dependencies there are currently fifty chief constables. These consist of the chief officers of 37 English territorial forces outside London, four Welsh territorial forces, the Police Service of Scotland, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, three special national forces and three Crown Dependency constabularies.

The chief officers of some police departments in Canada also hold the title of chief constable. The chief officer of the Sovereign Base Areas Police also holds the title of chief constable.


The title is a derived from the original local parish constables of the 18th century and earlier. Constable and constabulary were terms adopted in an attempt to provide a historical link with the older forces - the term is derived from the Latin comes stabuli (keeper of the stables)[2] - and to emphasise local control. Much of the debate about policing in the early 19th century, when modern police forces were introduced in the United Kingdom, concerned fears that the new forces might become paramilitary agents of central government control. To this day other British police ranks, such as inspector and superintendent, are determinedly non-paramilitary – only police sergeants hold a quasi-military rank and even then the term sergeant had long existed as a non-military officer of subordinate rank.

The County Police Act 1839 gave the counties of England and Wales the opportunity to establish full-time police forces, headed by a chief constable who was appointed by the justices of the peace of the county. The first county to implement this was Wiltshire Constabulary, which appointed Captain Samuel Meredith RN its first chief constable on 28 November 1839.[3] Other counties followed this pattern; for instance, Essex appointed its first chief constable on 11 February 1840.[4]

Originally, most borough police forces were commanded by a head constable, although this rank was superseded by chief constable in most forces in the later 19th century and early 20th century and was almost completely abolished by the Police Act 1919. Liverpool City Police was the only large force to retain it until then.

The first woman to hold the rank of chief constable was Pauline Clare, appointed Chief Constable of the Lancashire Constabulary on 14 June 1995.[5]

Characteristics of officeEdit

The population of areas for which chief constables are responsible varies from a few hundred thousand to two or three million and it is commonplace for chief constables for larger force areas to be drawn from the chief constables of smaller forces. A chief constable has no senior officer. Prior to 2012, a chief constable was responsible to a police authority. The chief constable is now appointed by the Police and Crime Commissioner of their service, who may also dismiss the chief constable.

The chief constable's badge of rank, worn on the epaulettes, consists of crossed tipstaves in a laurel wreath, surmounted by a crown.[6] This is similar to the insignia of a lieutenant-general in the British Army and is also worn by an assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan Police.

The chief constable is assisted by a deputy chief constable (DCC) and one or more assistant chief constables (ACC). The chief constable, DCC and ACCs are collectively known as the "chief officers" of a force.


The salaries of chief constables vary from force to force, primarily on the basis of the population of their force's territory, but the amounts are fixed centrally. From 1 September 2010, the highest paid is the chief constable of Northern Ireland, on £193,548, in recognition of the unique security challenges and political sensitivity of that office. Other salaries range from £181,455 in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, down to £127,017. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and their deputy are paid significantly more than any chief constable, partly because the Metropolitan Police has national anti-terrorism and security duties that overlap with other local forces. As of 2011, the commissioner earns an annual salary of £260,088, whilst their deputy earns £214,722.[7]

Current chief officers (United Kingdom and Crown dependencies)Edit

The table below lists the chief officers of British and Crown dependency police forces. The majority of these officers are titled 'chief constable', but some hold other or additional titles such as commissioner or chief executive.

Police force Chief officer name Date appointed
Avon & Somerset Constabulary Andy Marsh[8] 1 February 2016
Bedfordshire Police Jon Boutcher, QPM[9] June 2015
British Transport Police Paul Crowther, OBE March 2014[10]
Cambridgeshire Constabulary Nick Dean[11] September 2018
Cheshire Constabulary Simon Byrne, QPM June 2014[12]
City of London Police Ian Dyson, QPM (Commissioner)[13] 3 January 2016
Civil Nuclear Constabulary Mike Griffiths, CBE[14] 2014
Cleveland Constabulary Richard Lewis April 2019
Cumbria Constabulary Michelle Skeer[15] Acting since December 2015;[16] April 2018
Derbyshire Constabulary Peter Goodman 1 June 2017[17]
Devon and Cornwall Police Shaun Sawyer[18] February 2014[19]
Dorset Police Debbie Simpson[20] October 2012[21]
Durham Constabulary Jo Farrell[22] June 2019[23]
Dyfed-Powys Police Mark Collins[24] January 2017[25]
Essex Constabulary Stephen Kavanagh[26] May 2013
Gloucestershire Constabulary Rod Hansen][27] February 2013[28]
Greater Manchester Police Ian Hopkins October 2015[29]
Gwent Constabulary Jeff Farrar June 2013 (Temporary; substantive November 2013)[30]
Hampshire Constabulary Olivia Pinkney[31] April 2016
Hertfordshire Constabulary Charlie Hall, QPM October 2016
Humberside Constabulary Lee Freeman 26 June 2017
Isle of Man Constabulary Gary Roberts[32] 1 January 2013
Kent Police Alan Pughsley[33] January 2014
Lancashire Constabulary Andy Rhodes[34] July 2017
Leicestershire Constabulary Simon Cole, QPM[35] June 2010
Lincolnshire Police Bill Skelly[36] February 2017[36]
Merseyside Constabulary Andy Cooke, QPM[37] July 2016
Metropolitan Police Cressida Dick, CBE, QPM (Commissioner) 10 April 2017[38]
Ministry of Defence Police Andy Adams[39] 17 May 2018[39]
Norfolk Constabulary Simon Bailey, QPM 25 October 2013[40]
North Wales Police Carl Foulkes 11 September 2018[citation needed]
Northamptonshire Police Nick Adderley 6 August 2018
Northumbria Police Winton Keenan[41] 26 March 2018[41]
Merseyside Constabulary Steve Ashman[42] June 2015
North Yorkshire Constabulary Lisa Winward[43]
Nottinghamshire Constabulary Craig Guildford[44] 1 February 2017
Police Scotland Iain Livingstone[45]
Police Service of Northern Ireland George Hamilton, QPM June 2014[46]
South Wales Constabulary Matt Jukes, QPM[47] January 2018[47]
South Yorkshire Constabulary Stephen Watson[48] July 2016
Sovereign Base Areas Police Mick Matthews[49]
Staffordshire Constabulary Gareth Morgan June 2017[50]
States of Guernsey Police Service Patrick Rice (Chief Officer)
States of Jersey Police Mike Bowron, QPM (Chief Officer) January 2011[51]
Suffolk Constabulary Gareth Wilson[52] January 2016
Surrey Constabulary Nick Ephgrave[53] July 2016
Sussex Constabulary Giles York
Thames Valley Constabulary John Campbell April 2015[54]
Warwickshire Constabulary Martin Jelley[55] 1 April 2015
West Mercia Constabulary Anthony Bangham[56] August 2016
West Midlands Constabulary Dave Thompson, QPM January 2016[57]
West Yorkshire Police Dee Collins, CBE, QPM[58][59] Temporary from June 2014; Substantive as of 11 November 2016[60]
Wiltshire Constabulary Kier Pritchard[61] March 2018

Metropolitan PoliceEdit

In London, the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police are led by commissioners rather than chief constables. Chief constable was, however, a lower rank in the Metropolitan Police which existed between 1886 and 1946.

In 1869, the divisions of the Metropolitan Police were grouped into four districts, and four new officers called district superintendents were appointed to command them, ranking between the divisional superintendents and the two assistant commissioners. These officers were to be generally military officers, civil servants or lawyers who were directly appointed to the rank. This caused a certain amount of concern, since some saw it as the creation of an "officer class" for the police, which had always been resisted.

In 1886, the rank of district superintendent was renamed chief constable, as it was decided that it could be confused with the divisional superintendents. Unlike their superiors, chief constables were actually sworn into the office of constable, hence the name. A fifth chief constable was later created in the Criminal Investigation Department. The rank became junior to the new rank of deputy assistant commissioner in 1919.

In 1933, the districts were taken over by deputy assistant commissioners, with the chief constables remaining as their deputies. In 1946, the rank was renamed deputy commander.

The rank badge of a Metropolitan Police chief constable consisted of crossed tipstaves in a wreath.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "President of ACPO". Police Reform Act 2002. Archived from the original on 5 August 2012.
  2. ^ Pike, Michael S (1985). The Principles of Policing, p. 7. The Macmillan Press Ltd. ISBN 0-333-38245-5.
  3. ^ Wiltshire Constabulary History Archived 18 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Wiltshire Police website
  4. ^ The Making of a Chief Constable Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Essex Police website
  5. ^ "First woman chief constable is appointed". The Independent. 15 June 1995.
  6. ^ Police Ranks and Epaulette Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Avon and Somerset Constabulary website
  7. ^ "Police Pay".
  8. ^ "Chief Constable Andy Marsh". Avon and Somerset Police. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  9. ^ "Our Chief Constable". Bedfordshire Police. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  10. ^ "Chief Officers". British Transport Police. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  11. ^ "Cambridgeshire Constabulary - Senior Management". Cambridgeshire Constabulary. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  12. ^ "Chief Officers". Cheshire Constabuary. 14 February 2015. Archived from the original on 15 April 2012.
  13. ^ "Commissioner". City of London Police. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  14. ^ "CNC Ogganisation Chart 1 August 2013" (PDF). Civil Nuclear Constabulary. 1 August 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  15. ^ "Chief Constable - Michelle Skeer". Cumbria Constabulary. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  16. ^ "Who is Cumbria Police Chief Michelle Skeer?". Border - ITV News. 26 February 2016. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  17. ^ "Chief Officers". Derbyshire Constabulary. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  18. ^ "Shaun Sawyer to become Devon and Cornwall police chief". BBC. 16 January 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  19. ^ "Shaun Sawyer CONFIRMED as new Chief Constable for Devon and Cornwall". 16 January 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  20. ^ "Force Structure". Dorset Police. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  21. ^ "Chief Constable Debbie Simpson" (PDF). Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  22. ^ "About Us". Durham Constabulary.
  23. ^ "Durham Police appoints Jo Farrell as its first female chief constable". BBC News. 6 June 2019. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  24. ^ "Who's Who". Dyfed-Powys Police. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  25. ^ "Who's Who". Dyfed-Powys Police. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  26. ^ "Chief Constable Stephan Kavanagh". Essex Police. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  27. ^ "Chief Officer Group". Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  28. ^ "Suzette Davenport is Chief Constable of Gloucestershire Police". BBC. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
  29. ^ "Chief Officer Team". Greater Manchester Police. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  30. ^ "Gwent Police: Chief Constable". Archived from the original on 1 August 2015. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  31. ^ "Senior Management Team". Hampshire Constabulary. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  32. ^ "Isle of Man Government - Isle of Man Constabulary". Isle of Man Government. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  33. ^ "Alan Pughsley QPM biography - Kent Police". Archived from the original on 22 October 2015. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  34. ^ "Lancashire Constabulary - Chief Officers". Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  35. ^ Leicestershire Police. "Chief Constable - Leicestershire Police". Archived from the original on 22 July 2015. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  36. ^ a b "Chief Constable Bill Skelly, Lincolnshire Police -". Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  37. ^ "Chief Constable, Andy Cooke, QPM". Merseyside Police. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  38. ^ "UK Appoints First Woman Scotland Yard Chief in 187-Year History". Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  39. ^ a b "Andy Adams appointed as the Chief Constable of the Ministry of Defence Police". GOV.UK. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  40. ^ "CC Simon Bailey". Norfolk Constanbulary. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  41. ^ a b Kelly, Jo (27 March 2018). "New chief for Northumbria Police announced". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
  42. ^ "Chief Constable - Chief Officer Team". Northumbria Police. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  43. ^ "Chief officer team". North Yorkshire Police. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  44. ^ "About Us - Chief Officer Team". Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  45. ^ Authority, Scottish Police Services. "Executive Team - Police Scotland". Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  46. ^ "Appointment date set for new Chief". Police Oracle. 9 June 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  47. ^ a b "New chief constable to be appointed". BBC News. 5 September 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  48. ^ "Organisational structure - SYP". Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  49. ^ "Sovereign Base Area Police Annual Report 14/15" (PDF). Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  50. ^ Knapper, Dave (19 June 2017). "New Staffordshire Police Chief Constable Gareth Morgan outlines priorities". Stoke Sentinel. Archived from the original on 19 June 2017.
  51. ^ "States of Jersey Police". Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  52. ^ "Our people". Suffolk Constabulary. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  53. ^ "Senior Leaders". Surrey Police. Archived from the original on 24 September 2016. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  54. ^ "Thames Valley Police announces new chief constable". BBC. 12 March 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  55. ^ "Warwickshire Police - Chief Constable Martin Jelley". Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  56. ^ "Chief Constable Anthony Bangham". West Mercia Police. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  57. ^ "Command Team - Chief Constable". West Midlands Police. Archived from the original on 15 February 2015. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  58. ^ "Chief Officer Team". West Yorkshire Police. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  59. ^ "Queen's Birthday Honours | West Yorkshire Police". Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  60. ^ "PCC Announces New Chief Constable". 3 November 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  61. ^ "Wiltshire Police". Wiltshire Police. Archived from the original on 15 October 2017. Retrieved 28 September 2016.