Police Act 1996

The Police Act 1996 (c 16) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which defined the current police areas in England and Wales, constituted police authorities for those areas, and set out the relationship between the Home Secretary and the English and Welsh territorial police forces. It replaced the Police and Magistrates' Courts Act 1994, which in turn had replaced the Police Act 1964.

Police Act 1996[1]
Long titleAn Act to consolidate the Police Act 1964, Part IX of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, Chapter I of Part I of the Police and Magistrates' Courts Act 1994 and certain other enactments relating to the police.
Citation1996 c 16
Territorial extent
Royal assent22 May 1996 (1996-05-22)
Other legislation
Amended by
Status: Partially repealed
Text of statute as originally enacted
Text of the Police Act 1996 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from legislation.gov.uk.


Part I Organisation of Police ForcesEdit

Sections 1 to 35 concern the national and regional organisation of the police force, with slightly differently applicable rules inside and outside London.

Part II Central Supervision, Direction and FacilitiesEdit

Sections 36 to 58 concern the functions of the Secretary of State in setting the police forces' objectives, handling budgets, and making more detailed regulations.

Part III Police Representative InstitutionsEdit

Sections 59 to 64 concern the Police Federation of England and Wales and related rules. Section 64 contains the prohibition (in place since the Police Act 1919) on police becoming members of a trade union which can take strike action, under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. The Police Federation was thought to be a substitute, given the potential for civil unrest that might develop if police stopped working to go on strike. This was thought to make the police exceptional, and as an alternative, a system of arbitration to resolve workplace disputes was instituted. The constitution of the Police Federation is set out in the amended Police Federation Regulations 1969.[2]

Part IV Complaints, disciplinary proceedings etc.Edit

Sections 65 to 88 concern the rules of the Police Complaints Authority, handling complaints made against the police, and procedures for disciplinary hearings and dismissal of officers.

Part V Miscellaneous and GeneralEdit

Section 89(1) creates the offence of assaulting a constable in the execution of his duty. Subsequently, the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 increased the maximum sentence on summary conviction to 12 months.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Police Act 1996: Section 106", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 22 May 1996, 1996 c. 16 (s. 106), retrieved 19 December 2019. "This Act may be cited as the Police Act 1996."
  2. ^ "The Police Federation Regulations 1969", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 11 December 1969, SI 1969/1787, retrieved 19 December 2019
  3. ^ "Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018: Section 1", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 13 September 2018, 2018 c. 23 (s. 1), retrieved 19 December 2019