South Wales Police

South Wales Police (Welsh: Heddlu De Cymru) is one of the four territorial police forces in Wales; the largest in Wales by strength and population served, and the seventh largest in the United Kingdom. It is headquartered in Bridgend.

South Wales Police
Heddlu De Cymru
Agency overview
Annual budget£249M 2012–13
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionBridgend, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Neath Port Talbot, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Swansea and Vale of Glamorgan unitary authority areas, UK
South Wales police area map.svg
South Wales Police operations area
Size2,074 km²
Population1,227,200[citation needed]
Operational structure
Constables2,863 (of which 98 are Special Constables) [1]
Police Community Support Officers400
Police and Crime Commissioner responsible
Agency executive
Divisions4 (Eastern, Western, Central, Northern)
Total vehicles773

The force was formed as South Wales Constabulary on 1 June 1969 by the amalgamation of the former Glamorgan Constabulary, Cardiff City Police, Swansea Borough Police and Merthyr Tydfil Borough Police.[3][4] In 1974, with the reorganisation of local government, the force's area was expanded to cover the newly created counties of Mid, South and West Glamorgan. In 1996, the force adopted its current name and lost the Rhymney Valley area to Gwent Police due to further local government reorganisation.

Today, the force serves the principal areas of Bridgend, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Neath Port Talbot, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Swansea and the Vale of Glamorgan – most of the ancient county of Glamorgan.

Cardiff Police van

Organisation and recruitmentEdit

The force is overseen by the South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, which replaced a police authority of councillors, magistrates and lay members in 2012.

South Wales Police employ 2,862 officers, 400 Police Community Support Officers, approximately 1,631 support staff and 285 Police Support Volunteers. South Wales Police's Special Constabulary recruits every 6 months. In February 2014, the force introduced a requirement that anyone wishing to become a police constable first studies for the certificate in knowledge of policing before applying for the role. SWP is the first force in Wales, and only a handful in the UK to introduce this.

Under proposals made by the Home Secretary on 6 February 2006, the force would have merged with North Wales Police, Gwent Police and Dyfed-Powys Police, to form a single strategic force for all of Wales. This issue caused sharp divisions among some members of the police force.[5]

The South Wales Joint Scientific Investigation Unit is a joint venture between South Wales Police and Gwent Police, established in 2012 and based in Bridgend.[6] It employs 160 staff; 110 from South Wales Police and 50 from Gwent.[6] It is a Centre of Excellence - the only location in the UK able to undertake glass investigation, and one of only three in the UK with a metal vacuum deposition room for fingerprint analysis from smooth surfaces.[6] It is obtaining ISO accreditation.[7]

The South Wales Police has participated in the World Police and Fire Games since 1995, except for the 1999 Stockholm Games.

Chief ConstablesEdit

Police stationsEdit

The following police stations are operational as of 2018.[10]

Corruption, racism and criticismEdit

The Cardiff Newsagent Three were three men wrongly convicted of the 1987 murder of Cardiff newsagent Phillip Saunders, who was attacked with a shovel in the back yard of his Cardiff home and later died in hospital. Michael O'Brien, Darren Hall and Ellis Sherwood spent 11 years in prison before being released.

In 1989, the body of Karen Price was discovered in Cardiff. Two construction workers unearthed a rolled carpet while installing a garden behind a house. It was disclosed that a number of officers from the South Wales Constabulary who were involved in the investigation of Price's murder had also worked on the Lynette White and Philip Saunders murder inquiries, in which six men were wrongfully convicted. Other sources of concern in the Price case, according to the commission, included breaches of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and the PACE Code of Practice, which govern the detention, treatment, and questioning of persons by police officers; the credibility of the prosecution witnesses; "oppressive handling by the police of key witnesses"; and the "veracity of Mr. Ali's guilty plea".

Supression of Anti-Apartheid protestEdit

In November 1969 the South Africa national rugby union team played Swansea RFC at St. Helen's Rugby and Cricket Ground as part of the 1969–70 South Africa rugby union tour of Britain and Ireland, during which many matches were protested due to South Africa's system of Apartheid. The match that took place in Swansea became known as the "Battle of Swansea" due to violent clashes between protesters, police and stewards hired to assist with policing of the match. In the aftermath of the match 30 complaints were made against the police and over 100 people were injured including 11 police officers. Eyewitness and future MP Hywel Francis describing the policing of the event as "a military-style operation". The leader of the protests Peter Hain described the response to the protest as being "particularly nasty" and described his shock at discovering "a friend had a broken jaw and a woman demonstrator almost lost an eye". After the event the then Home Secretary, James Callaghan spoke in the House of Commons criticising the police's use of stewards stating "My own view, and I want to put this to the chief constables, is that it is better for the police to tackle this job themselves rather than to have amateur assistants, no doubt of a very beefy character, but not necessarily designed to ensure that the peace is not breached."[11][12]

Murder of Lynette White and false convictionsEdit

In November 1988, South Wales Constabulary charged five mixed-race men with the murder of Lynette White, although none of the scientific evidence discovered at the crime scene could be linked to them, and a white male was seen in the vicinity at the time of the murder. On conclusion of the longest murder trial in British history, in November 1990 three of the men were found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. In December 1992, the convictions were ruled unsafe and quashed by the Court of Appeal after it was decided that the police investigating the murder had acted improperly. The wrongful conviction of the three men has been called one of the most egregious miscarriages of justice in recent times. The police claimed that they had done nothing wrong, that the men had been released purely on a technicality of law, and resisted all calls for the case to be reopened.

In 2004 the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) began a review of the conduct of the police during the original inquiry. Over the next 12 months around 30 people were arrested in connection with the investigation, 19 of whom were serving or retired police officers. In 2007 three of the prosecution witnesses at the original murder trial were convicted of perjury and each jailed for 18 months. In 2009 two further witnesses from the original trial were also charged with perjury. Along with eight former police officers charged with conspiring to pervert the course of justice, they stood trial in 2011. The trial was the largest police corruption trial in British criminal history. A further four police officers were due to be tried on the same charges in 2012. In November 2011, the case collapsed when the defence submitted that copies of files which they said they should have seen had instead been destroyed. As a result, the judge ruled that the defendants could not receive a fair trial and all 14 were acquitted. In January 2012 the "destroyed" documents were found, still in the original box in which they had been sent to South Wales Police by the IPCC.[13]

Jeffrey Davies rape convictionsEdit

In July 2016, a former police detective was jailed for 18 years after he was found guilty of raping two women. Jeffrey Davies, 45, of Aberdare, was serving in the Rhondda Valley when he raped his victims in 2002 and 2003. Cardiff Crown Court heard he was dismissed from the force in 2013 after being convicted of other sexual assaults. IPCC Commissioner for Wales, Jan Williams, has said Davies was a "sex offender hiding within the police".[14]

Ian Watkins investigationEdit

An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation report, published in August 2017, into the force's investigation of the child sex offender Ian Watkins, found that they had failed a number of times from 2008 to 2012 act on reports of Watkins' behaviour.[15][16] The report concluded:[15]

The consequence of the force’s failings was arguably that a predatory paedophile offended over an extended period of time. The evidence obtained in this investigation suggests that South Wales police were faced with a litany of reports about his behaviour, yet in some instances did not carry out even rudimentary investigation, made errors and omissions and missed opportunities to bring him to justice earlier than he ultimately was.

South Wales Police Assistant Chief Constable Jeremy Vaughan said his force "entirely accepts and regrets" the findings of the report.[16]

Use of facial recognitionEdit

South Wales Police became one of the first three Police forces in the United Kingdom to use Facial recognition to police large events alongside the Metropolitan Police and Leicestershire Police, although the latter force discontinued use soon after adoption.[17][18] The use of facial recognition was met by much criticism, mainly revolving around the high rate of false positives with over 90% of people identified being incorrectly flagged.[19] The use of the technology at football games was described by the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones as "disproportionate" adding that its use could lead to miscarriages of justice.[20] Prof Paul Wiles, the UK biometrics commissioner criticised the lack of government oversight of the technology saying that due to the lack of legal framework governing the technology it is at the police's discretion whether the public benefit exceeds the "significant intrusion into an individual’s privacy" caused by the use of facial recognition.[21]

The first time a court had ever considered the use of facial recognition technology was when someone who had been photographed by the technology brought a legal challenge against the use of facial recognition by South Wales Police arguing that its use constitutes a breach of privacy. This legal challenge was unsuccessful but is currently being appealed.[22]

South Wales Police have also been criticised by civil liberties groups as the technology is more likely to give a false positive if the person being scanned is a woman or an ethnic minority.[23] South Wales Police refute this claim on the basis that "AFR does not define race of an individual. When a person is potentially identified through the system. The identification is made on the match between the person’s eyes and is based on algorithm matches. The camera does not define race or sex of an individual."[24] Although a Cardiff University assessment of the technology on behalf of the police did not test for misidentification on the basis of ethnicity or gender and acknowledged that this is a known issue with facial recognition technology "Multiple research studies have reported algorithmic biases regarding ethnicity in facial recognition systems. This was not an aspect empirically tested by the current study. It is an area of concern though."[25][26]

In August 2019 South Wales Police announced that they would be trialing the use of facial recognition technology on 50 officers phones for three months, although no update has been given since.[27]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Tables for 'Police workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2013". HM Government. Office for National Statistics. 31 March 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  2. ^ "Alun Michael is new south Wales police and crime commissioner". BBC News. 16 November 2012.
  3. ^ "Welsh Police Football Association—Teams". Archived from the original on 8 May 2005. Retrieved 1 November 2006.
  4. ^ South Wales Police Museum
  5. ^ "All-Wales police force confirmed". BBC News. 6 February 2006. Retrieved 1 November 2006.
  6. ^ a b c "Police team up to speed CSI work". 3 April 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2019.
  7. ^ "Police Launch A Joint Scientific Investigation Unit As Part Of The Government's Collaboration Proposals SIU image | AberdareOnline". Retrieved 24 December 2019.
  8. ^ "Obituary: Robert Lawrence". The Independent. Retrieved 24 June 2018.
  9. ^ "Jeremy Vaughan, Chief Constable". 6 November 2020. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  10. ^ "Police Stations". South Wales Police. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  11. ^ Lloyd, Matt (15 November 2019). "How a rugby game became a battle against apartheid". BBC News. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  12. ^ "SPRINGBOKS' RUGBY MATCH, SWANSEA (DISTURBANCES) (Hansard, 17 November 1969)". Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  13. ^ Hughes, Mark (26 January 2012). "Missing Lynette White Files in Britain's Biggest police corruption case found". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  14. ^ "Ex-detective rapist jailed for 18 years". 15 July 2016 – via
  15. ^ a b Morris, Steven (25 August 2017). "Police missed chances to stop paedophile Ian Watkins, says report". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  16. ^ a b "Ian Watkins child abuse: South Wales Police criticised". BBC News. 25 August 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  17. ^ "Police make first arrest using facial recognition technology". ITV News. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  18. ^ Fox, Chris (15 May 2018). "Police face recognition tools 'inaccurate'". BBC News. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  19. ^ "Face scans wrongly ID 2,000 as criminals". BBC News. 4 May 2018. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  20. ^ McDonald, Henry (8 January 2020). "Facial recognition at South Wales derby 'a step too far', says police chief". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  21. ^ editor, Ian Sample Science (27 June 2019). "Watchdog criticises 'chaotic' police use of facial recognition". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 May 2020.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  22. ^ Rees, Jenny (4 September 2019). "Police use of facial recognition ruled lawful". BBC News. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  23. ^ Coleman, Clive (21 May 2019). "Shopper challenges facial recognition surveillance". BBC News. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  24. ^ Davies, Rhodri (2017-4-13) "Equality Impact Assessment- Initial Assessment" South Wales Police
  25. ^ White, Geoff (13 May 2019). "Police 'miss' chances to improve face tech". BBC News. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  27. ^ "South Wales police to use facial recognition apps on phones". the Guardian. 7 August 2019. Retrieved 6 May 2020.

External linksEdit