Port of Bristol Police

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Port of Bristol Police
Logo of the Port of Bristol Police
Agency overview
Formed 1884
Employees 31
Legal personality Non government: Limited company
Jurisdictional structure
Legal jurisdiction Port of Bristol and up to 1-mile (1.6 km) from boundary.
Constituting instrument Harbours, Docks and Piers Clauses Act 1847
General nature
Specialist jurisdiction Water ways and bodies and-or coastal areas.
Operational structure
Constables 20[1]
Support staffs 11

The Port of Bristol Police (PoBP) is a body of uniformed, warranted constables whose purpose is to protect the port complexes and community situated at the mouth of the River Avon on the border between Bristol and Somerset. Officers are sworn under powers in legislation derived from the Harbours, Docks and Piers Clauses Act 1847.

The PoBP has existed at the Avonmouth Docks since 1884, but has been in its present form since the end of the Second World War. The PoBP in modern times is responsible for the policing and certain security measures at Avonmouth Docks, Royal Portbury Dock and the trading estates owned by The Bristol Port Company that are situated at the outskirts of the port areas.

First Corporate Shipping Limited, trading as The Bristol Port Company, is the statutory undertaker (within the meaning of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984) of the harbour area and is solely responsible for financing and employing the PoBP.[2]

Mission statement

"The aim of the Port of Bristol Police is to safeguard the well-being and property of those using the port and the local community by the effective and proper enforcement of legislation and regulation whilst maintaining the traditional policing standards the public expect."[2]

Memorandum of Understanding

The port does not constitute a separate police area; it remains within the police area of Avon & Somerset Constabulary. There is a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the PoBP and Avon & Somerset Constabulary, which formalises and reiterates the long-standing arrangement that agrees that the PoBP will deal with all policing within the port area, with the exception of the most serious incidents and offences such as murder and acts of terrorism. The MoU also allows for the mutual provision of training requirements and the provision by A&S to the PoBP of specialist roles such as crime scene investigators, dog units, custody suite facilities and the use of administrative support units following the charging of offenders.

Multi-Agency Approach

Whenever possible, the Port Police adopts a multi-agency approach to dealing with border control and other issues arising in the Port area. Whilst not adopting the role of the Border Force, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency or any other agency, the Port Police often act on their behalf when dealing with offenders.[3]

Power and Authority

PoBP officers are sworn in as "special constables" under Section 79 of the Harbours, Docks, and Piers Clauses Act 1847 (HDPCA) as incorporated by the individual local Act. As a result, officers have the full powers of a constable on any land owned by the harbour, dock, or port and at any place within one mile of any owned land.


Although the PoBP possesses constabulary powers for up to one mile (1.6 kilometre) outside the port's limits, in practice its remit is to concentrate on policing the port area. Within that the PoBP is responsible for the prevention and detection of offences including those involving assaults, property, road traffic, maritime matters (including The Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 and International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS)) and enforcing and prosecuting the local bylaws vested within the port. The investigation of port-based offences makes it necessary to work at considerable distance outside of their constabulary jurisdiction.


The Port of Bristol Police started as The Bristol Docks Company in 1803.[4] The Bristol Docks Act 1803 created the company and provided for the improvement of the Port and Harbour of Bristol. A force of 51 men were duly appointed as constables under this act and were stationed in a police office building at Wapping Wharf, adjacent to the Bristol Dock Company office at Underfall Yard, Bristol City Docks.

In 1848 the Bristol Dock Company was taken into the ownership of Bristol City Council and began trading as the Port of Bristol Authority. It was then deemed unnecessary by the new authority to continue with the inherited police force, as Bristol had by then in 1842 formed a River Police section of the Bristol Constabulary.[5][6] In 1877 the Bristol and Portishead Pier and Railway Company formed a small police force at Portishead Dock composed of a sergeant and six constables. A force of similar size was also formed by the Bristol Port and Channel Dock Company at Avonmouth in 1878.[7] These two dock companies were subsequently acquired by the Port of Bristol Authority in 1884 and the present Port of Bristol Police Force were then reformed from its beginnings in 1803.

See also


  1. http://dft.gov.uk/pgr/shippingports/ports/accountabilityreview?page=3
  2. 2.0 2.1 http://dft.gov.uk/pgr/shippingports/ports/accountabilityreview?page=12
  3. http://www.bristolport.co.uk/police
  4. "1800". British Police History. Retrieved 29 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "History of the Force". Avon and Somerset Constabulary. Retrieved 29 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Footnotes". Bristol Historical Resource. University of the West of England. Retrieved 29 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Dixon of docks Green". Bristol Post. 11 August 2008. Retrieved 29 November 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links