Wiltshire Police

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Wiltshire Police
Logo of the Wiltshire Police
Motto Primus et Optimus
The First and the Best
Agency overview
Formed 13 November, 1839
Preceding agencies
Employees 2,236[1]
Volunteers 245 (220 specials and 25 PSVs)[1]
Annual budget £108.0 million[1][2]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* Police area of Wiltshire in the country of England, UK
England Police Forces (Wiltshire).svg
Map of police area
Size 1,346 square miles (3,490 km2)
Population 625,000
Legal jurisdiction England & Wales
Constituting instrument Police Act 1996
General nature
Operational structure
Overviewed by Independent Police Complaints Commission/Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary
Headquarters Devizes
Constables 1,050 (of which 296 are special constables) [3]
Police Community Support Officers 147[1]
Police and Crime Commissioner responsible Angus Macpherson
Agency executive Mike Veale, Chief Constable
Divisions 2
Headquarters London Road, Devizes
Stations 24
Cars Ford Mondeo, Ford Transit, Škoda Octavia, Honda Accord
Dogs 30
* Police area agency: Prescribed geographic area in the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

Wiltshire Police, formerly known as the Wiltshire Constabulary, is the territorial police force responsible for policing Wiltshire and Swindon in the south-west of England.


Before 1839 policing in Wiltshire was the responsibility of petty and parish constables, who were supervised by magistrates. This was largely ineffective as they were unpaid and untrained. Independent and private forces such as the Devizes Prosecution Society, emerged and continued to operate after Wiltshire Police was formed.

The Municipal Corporations Act 1835 meant that Salisbury Borough was formed and was required to have an official city force, that would replace the local force: New Sarum Police. The Salisbury City Police was founded in 1836 and continued to operate separately from Wiltshire Police until World War II when the two were temporarily amalgamated, however after the war ended the separation never occurred and Salisbury City Police ceased to exist. The official handover took place on 1 April 1943.

Later, in 1839 several groups of labourers rioted in many parts of the county over the price of food and the introduction of new farm equipment that was taking their jobs, they started fires and destroyed the farm equipment. In response to the 225 incidents, residents of Wiltshire called for the formation of a police force similar to Robert Peels Metropolitan Police force, whose 'A' division had visited in 1836 to help control riots. When the County Police Act 1839 was introduced Wiltshire leapt at the chance to form a police force. As a result Wiltshire Constabulary was established on Wednesday 13 November 1839 at The Bear Hotel, Devizes and was the first county police force to be formed, beating Gloucestershire by a few hours.

The first Chief Constable was Captain Samuel Meredith RN who placed an advertisement in the local paper to recruit 200 constables who were paid 17/6d a week. New constables were given their uniform and an instruction booklet and then sent off to work without any training or guidance. It wasn't until 1843 (and later 1855) that they were given training. Wiltshire Constabulary started operating from January 1840 and had filled almost all its posts by summertime. The Chief Constable spent the first months of his time visiting all the boroughs in Wiltshire, spending almost all his £400 salary on travel. The first ranks were only Constable and Superintendent, but Sergeant, Inspector, Detectives and five classes of Constable were later introduced.[4]

Its motto, Primus et Optimus, means "the First and the Best".

Notable events for Wiltshire Police include the Rode Hill House Murder in 1860, the bomb explosion outside the Salisbury Guildhall in September 1884, the Trowbridge Christmas Eve murder in 1925 and escorting Louis Blériot when displaying his famous cross-channel airplane.[5]

Twice in the 1980s Wiltshire Police officers had to cover for the prison officers of Erlestoke Prison when they went on strike. In 1985, the force was involved in the Battle of the Beanfield, which prevented a convoy of new age travellers, known as the Peace Convoy, from establishing the fourteenth Stonehenge free festival at Stonehenge. The incident led to accusations of a police riot. The police also had to deal with the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp who were protesting against nuclear weapons being kept in Greenham Common. Most significantly the 1980s saw the introduction of the Police National Computer, Command and Control systems and HOLMES investigation system. Also a national probationary training programme was introduced in all forces for new recruits.

In January 2008, Brian Moore was appointed as Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police. He took over following the departure of Martin Richards, who transferred to become Chief Constable of Sussex Police on 1 October 2007. The Deputy Chief Constable was former Wiltshire Assistant Chief Patrick Geenty. The Assistant Chief Constable is former Detective Chief Superintendent and Divisional Commander Mike Veale.

On 20 February 2012, Home Secretary Theresa May announced that the UK Border Agency would be split in half and the responsibilities of patrolling and enforcing the UK's border would be the job of the new UK Border Force, and that Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police Brian Moore, would be moving to be the new head of the UK Border Force starting March 2012. Until his replacements has been chosen the role has been filled by the deputy chief constable, now Temporary Chief Constable, Patrick Geenty. Under the leadership of Chief Constable Moore, Wiltshire Police became the safest county in the country.[6][7]

Chief Constables

  • 1839–1870 Captain Samuel Meredith RN
  • 1870–1908 Captain Robert Sterne RN
  • 1908–1943 Colonel Sir Höel Llewellyn DSO, DL
  • 1943–1946 Mr W.T. Brooks (Acting Chief Constable)
  • 1946–1963 Lt. Colonel Harold Golden CBE
  • 1963–1979 Mr George Robert Glendinning OBE, QPM
  • 1979–1983 Mr Kenneth Mayer QPM
  • 1983–1988 Mr Donald Smith OBE, QPM
  • 1988–1997 Mr Walter Girven QPM, LL B, FBIM
  • 1997–2004 Dame Elizabeth Neville DBE, QPM, MA, PhD
  • 2004–2007 Mr Martin Richards QPM
  • 2008–2012 Mr Brian Moore QPM
  • 2012–2013 Mr Patrick Geenty (Temporary Chief Constable)
  • 2013 -2015 Mr Patrick Geenty
  • 2015 - Mr Mike Veale


The force was under the local oversight of the Wiltshire Police Authority until 2012. The police authority had nine councillor members, who were appointed from Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council, and eight independent members, one of whom was a justice of the peace. The responsible government department is the Home Office.

On 15 November 2012, the Police and Crime Commissioner elections took place in England and Wales. In Wiltshire, Angus Macpherson was elected Police and Crime Commissioner. The police and crime commissioner is scrutinised by the Wiltshire Police and Crime Panel, made up of elected councillors from the local authorities in the police area.

Wiltshire Commissioner election, 2012 (BBC News)
Party Candidate 1st Round  % 2nd Round Total  First Round Votes  Transfer Votes 
Conservative Angus Macpherson 28,558 36.2% 6,761 35,319
Labour Claire Moody 16,198 20.6% 4,959 21,157
Independent Colin Skelton 11,446 14.5% 0 11,446
Liberal Democrat Paul Batchelor 10,130 12.9% 0 10,130
UKIP John Short 7,250 9.2% 0 7,250
Independent Liam Silcocks 5,212 6.6% 0 5,212
Turnout 78,794 15.8%
Conservative win


Wiltshire Police is not divided into divisions. Previously the county was divided in Divisions A, B, C and D. This was later changed to D and E division. This has recently changed to just one division called 'W', effectively meaning that Wiltshire Police does not have divisions, just one Basic Command Unit.

Instead the organisation is divided into command sectors headed by Inspectors. Each sector has a 'hub' where all officers (except NPT officers) are based, who travel to their patrol area returning only to the 'hub' when necessary. NPT officers are stationed at local police stations and do not follow 'hub rules'.


Basic Command Unit structure

Each sector has several specialist teams, namely:

  • Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPTs), each with local Beat Managers and PCSOs, concentrate on preventing and detecting local crime and targeting offenders, building contacts in the local community, resolving problems by working with local organisations and individuals, and being visible and accessible. Wiltshire Police has 90 NPTs.
  • Response Teams respond to emergency calls.
  • Traffic Units patrol the roads and target and pursue people committing traffic offences.
  • Criminal Investigation Departments (CID) detect serious crime.
  • Forensic Services investigate crime scenes for forensic evidence that may correspond with many of the Home Office databases.
  • Pro-active Policing Units target persistent criminals and focus on specific operations.
  • Police Information Points, based at most police stations, are run by volunteers who answer questions from the public about police, arrange NPT meetings and deal with inquiries.

Headquarters-based teams

To support the BCUs, several centralised teams operate from the headquarters:


Criminal Investigation Department

On 30 June 1857 the Magistrates Committee expressed interest in forming an investigation department which was founded with three of the 'most intelligent constables'.

This situation remained until 1936 when three Detective Constables were recruited and a Detective Sergeant. It wasn't until 1939 that an official head of the department was appointed, and a Detective Sergeant was appointed to take charge of new equipment such as that for the Photographic, Printing and Fingerprinting departments. That same year the department acquired its first vehicle - an Austin saloon car.

CID remained stagnant in its development until after the war, after which it slowly expanded, and in 1997 it had 170 detectives.

Roads Policing Unit

Wiltshire Police patrols 35 miles (56 km) of the M4 which has three junctions, as well as many other 'A' roads including the A346, A338, A36, A303, A361, A350, A420, A419, A429 and A4. The unit was founded on 7 May 1939 at the urging of the Home Secretary.

In 2000 there were approximately 150 Roads Policing officers. Following the formation in 2013 of the Tri Force Specialist Operations Unit,[11] a collaboration with Avon & Somerset and Gloucestershire Police, there are fewer than 30 Roads Policing officers (as of 2015) for the county of Wiltshire.

As of 2015 there is no Motorcycle Policing Unit independent of the Tri Force Traffic department. The former unit was featured on Channel 5's Emergency Bikers in Series 2, when they escorted a Hercules from Wootton Bassett towards Somerset.

Ports Policing Unit

The Wiltshire Police Ports Unit was established in April 2000. It is responsible for policing all non-designated airfields in Wiltshire, making sure that legislation is followed, particularly the Terrorism Act 2000. It also obtains any intelligence on smuggling and contraband.

Ports in Wiltshire include Old Sarum Airfield, Clench Common Airfield and Redlands Airfield.

Dog Section

Wiltshire Police has 22 operational police dogs, handled by 12 officers - 11 are general purpose dogs, 3 explosive search dogs, 3 drugs search dogs, 3 conflict management dogs and 2 passive drugs dogs. The dogs are mostly donated from the public or RSPCA, or purchased, and are trained at the headquarters. They usually serve until they are 8 years old, receiving refresher training every year, and then live with their handler after retirement. The Dog Section is based at the headquarters in Devizes.

Armed Response Group

Wiltshire Police's Armed Response Group is a 24/7 sub-department of the Operations department that responds to major and serious crimes involving firearms. The unit responds to incidents with firearms and taser guns. The use of tasers has increased since their introduction in 2004. They were used 3 times a month in 2009 compared to once a month in 2006, but overall they have only been drawn 54 times between 2004 and 2009, of which 27 were not fired, merely aimed.[12]

Air Operations Unit

The Air Support Unit was officially created in the spring of 1990, but Wiltshire Police have been renting helicopters since the late 1980s. They experimented with a fixed-wing plane, a Robinson Beta 22 and an Aérospatiale Gazelle, but later chose a Bolkow 105 in 1990, which was used for seven years. After six years of service the Chief Constable received the news that the Bolkow was becoming outdated and a replacement had to be found. After Explorer demonstrated their MD-902 helicopter at the HQ their helicopter was chosen and deployed later the next year, where it is since in service today. Wiltshire Police share the McDonnell Douglas 902 Explorer helicopter with the Great Western Ambulance Service, an arrangement that is seen in only one other area of the country. Its ambulance call sign is 'Helimed 65' and its police call sign is 'Whiskey Hotel 99'.

The helicopter is operational from 0800 hrs to 0300 hrs all year round. It is staffed by three pilots, four observers and six paramedics, and one of each always flies with the helicopter. The Air Support Unit is based at the headquarters in Devizes where a purpose built hangar was built in 1993.

Mounted Division

In 1909 Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary raised concerns over the lack of a mounted division in the force. As a result 6 constables were transferred to the new mounted division, which doubled to 12 the next year. Although the mounted division wasn't active every day, they were of particular use at the Salisbury Races, and ceremonial duties such as escorting judges and guarding the royal carriage. They were also occasionally loaned to neighbouring forces. The fate of the mounted division is unknown, but it most likely was ended during the introduction of motor vehicles in the 1920s.

Over 60 years passed until mounted police were used again. In 1988 Wiltshire Police borrowed the Mounted Division of the City of London Police for a Swindon Town football match.

Special Constabulary

Special Constables have existed in Wiltshire since their definition was finalised under the Special Constable Act, but were historically looked down on as 'hobby bobbies'. After going through a period of neglect during the 1990s and early 2000s, the National Policing Improvement Agency implemented the national strategy for Specials recruitment, training and development. After setting targets to recruit 100 Specials a year, Wiltshire's Special Constabulary currently has roughly 310 officers and is still recruiting. The selection process lasts up to six months. The training programme is another six months and takes place at headquarters in Devizes. All Special Constables are required to complete a two-year probationary period.

The rank structure for Specials adopts the NPIA recommendations to use standard insignias and not 'bars'. Wiltshire Police Specials use 4-digit collar numbers beginning with either 4 or 5.

Wiltshire Special Constabulary rank structure and insignia
Rank Special
Chief Inspector
Chief Officer
of the Special
Insignia SC01-SPC.png SC02-SSgt.png SC03-SInsp.png SC04-SCInsp.png SC05-SSupt.png SC07-SChiOff.png
Wiltshire Special Constables and Sergeants do not wear the crown insignia above their 'SC' markings; ranks above this do wear a crown.
Wiltshire Special Constabulary is not large enough to require appointing the ranks between Special Chief Superintendent and Deputy Special Officer.

Notable Operations


Wiltshire Police is responsible for policing the annual Solstice celebrations that take place every year at Avebury and the associated sites such as Stonehenge and Silbury Hill.

Royal Wootton Bassett

Between 2007 and 2011 the Wiltshire town of Wootton Bassett was host to the repatriations of fallen service men and women who died in Afghanistan and Iraq. The bodies were brought through the town from RAF Lyneham on their way to the John Radcliffe Hospital at Oxford. Wiltshire Police were responsible for policing the crowds and any special events.[13] Officers from Wootton Bassett station received a special award at the Jane's Police Awards for their contribution to policing the repatriations.[14] Police were again praised for policing the 'Ride for Respect' in March 2010, the operation included planning,[13] marshalling and policing the crowd and 22,000 participants.[15]

Swindon Town Football Club

Swindon Town Football Club on County Road attracts continuous police attention as the club has been known for hooliganism since the 1970s. Nick Lowles, the author of Hooligans 2: The M–Z of Britain's Football Hooligan Gangs, said "If you look at Swindon, the police have been very proactive in the last five years in terms of stopping hooliganism".

Swindon Town has imposed banning orders on those supporters who cause disruption, criminal damage or are violent when attending games. There were 29 banning orders in place in 2006, which was an increase from a total of 11 in 2005.[16] The increase has resulted in a reduction of arrests at games, with only 22 people being arrested attending games in 2005–06 compared to 39 arrests in 2004–05.[17] Of the 22 arrests in 2005–06, 11 were for public disorder, 5 for violent disorder and the rest were made up of offences relating to missile throwing, racist chanting, pitch invasion, alcohol-related offences and one incident of being in possession of an offensive weapon.[18] 33 Swindon fans were also banned from travelling to the 2006 FIFA World Cup.[19]


Wiltshire Police Headquarters, Devizes

The headquarters of Wiltshire Police is at London Road, Devizes, where it has always been based because of its geographical position in the centre of Wiltshire. The operational headquarters of Wiltshire Police is based at Melksham for county division and Gablecross for Swindon division. The emergency communications centres for Wiltshire Police are based at Devizes and Gablecross. The SNEN non-emergency call centre is based at Devizes. Devizes is also the airbase for the Wiltshire Police/Air Ambulance helicopter, the base of Wiltshire Police Dog Squad and the training facilities for all new recruits.

Wiltshire Police's headquarters used to be on Bath Road in Devizes, formerly the Wiltshire Militia Stores; it was acquired in 1879 by Wiltshire Police as their headquarters. Nearby was a row of houses where senior officers lived. The building has since been demolished. Wiltshire Police remained at this site for 85 years until the early 1960s when the organization required a larger headquarters and the new building was commissioned on the London Road site, which was officially opened in 1964. An extension was added in the 1970s.

The 'Old Town' police station at Eastcott Hill in Swindon was also too small for the expanding organization and was demolished in 1973. The 'D Division' of Swindon was moved to a purpose built building in the centre of Swindon.

Wiltshire Police has 22 stations across the county: one in Swindon division, with police posts at North Swindon, West Swindon and Swindon Centre; and 21 in county division: Cricklade, Royal Wootton Bassett, Calne, Malmesbury, Chippenham, Corsham, Melksham, Bradford on Avon, Trowbridge, Westbury, Warminster, Tisbury, Mere, Devizes, Wilton, Alderbury, Salisbury, Amesbury, Tidworth, Pewsey and Marlborough. There is also a police post at Leigh Delamere services on the M4.



Wiltshire Police officers wear the traditional black custodian helmet in the rose style, with seamed joined and thin black metal band with a Brunswick star that reads 'Wiltshire Constabulary' or 'Wiltshire Police' for foot patrol, and a black peaked cap with Sillitoe tartan banding for when on mobile patrol in vehicles. Female officers wear a black bowler hat with Sillitoe tartan banding for foot patrol and mobile patrol.

Traffic officers wear a white peaked cap with Sillitoe tartan banding, or a white bowler with Sillitoe tartan banded hat for mobile patrol.

PCSOs always wear a peaked cap with a blue band, or a bowler hat with a blue band for female PCSOs.

Officers, whether Constable or PCSOs, when travelling on bicycle wear a black cycle helmet with 'Police' inscribed on it.

Armed Response or Dog Section officers wear black protective baseball caps that read 'Police' and have a Sillitoe tartan pattern on the sides.

Motorcycle officers and Air Support Unit officers wear specialised hard helmets with in-built radio microphones.


Operational uniform

When on duty officers wear a black wicking t-shirt with the Brunswick star and 'Wiltshire Police' on the chest, 'Police' on the sleeves, and black uniform trousers. Wiltshire Police no longer use the traditional police jumper, having favoured the black fleece with 'Police' on the chest and back. They also wear black body armour with the Wiltshire police 'patch' badge on the front, and 'Police' on the back. Officers then have a choice of utility belt, tactical vest or both, to hold their equipment. Officers are issued waterproof reflective coats and trousers, and a simple reflective tabard for traffic duties.

PCSOs wear similar uniform, a blue wicking t-shirt with the Brunswick star and 'Wiltshire Police' on the chest, with 'Police Community Support Officer' on the sleeves, black uniform trosuers, a black fleece with 'Police Community Support Officer' on the back, and black body armour with the same back badge. PCSOs are not offered tactical vests because they carry less equipment than constables. PCSOs are also issued with reflective raincoat and trousers. PCSOs' epaulettes are blue and start with 'C', followed by their four-digit identifier.

Formal uniform

Formal dress consists of an open-necked tunic, with white shirt/blouse and black tie. Constables and sergeants wear custodian helmets, name badges and their collar numbers sewn into their tunic shoulders. Sergeants wear a chevron stitched onto the tunic sleeve. All higher-ranked officers wear peaked caps, name badges and their rank sewn into their tunic shoulder. The No.1 uniform is accompanied by black boots or shoes and occasionally black gloves, or brown gloves for the rank of Inspector and above.

Formal dress for PCSOs consists of a white shirt/blouse, with blue epaulettes showing collar number, with a blue tie, black trousers and black boots.

Wiltshire Police do not have Brunswick stars on their epaulettes, just the rank or collar number.


Wiltshire Police officers carry TETRA digital radios, HTC PDAs, Hiatt rigid handcuffs, PAVA incapacitant spray, the ASP 21" collapsible baton, leg restraints, a resuscitation mask and a basic first aid kit. PCSOs don't carry ASPs, handcuffs, leg restraints or PAVA. Should they be required to, some Wiltshire officers can use body-mounted cameras. Police vehicles contain a variety of equipment, which can include Arnold batons, traffic cones, road signs, breathalyzers, stingers, speed guns and more.

Wiltshire Police are the first to give every officer a PDA and personal computer under a £3 million pound venture to make the police more efficient by reducing paperwork and keeping officers on the streets instead of at the police station. Their equipment allows them to write and submit electronic reports wirelessly, to take pictures of crime or criminals and submit them to nearby officers and to receive emails or reports on local crimes, criminals and collisions that they are attending.


Wiltshire Police use many different makes of vehicles from several different car manufacturers for the diverse categories of response vehicles required by the modern police officer. For everyday patrol cars Wiltshire Police use Škoda Octavias, Honda CRVs, Honda Accords, Ford Focus Estates, and Toyota iQs, Aygos and Auris for NPT cars.

A wide variety of vehicles are utilised by Specialist Divisions. The Roads Policing Units utilises BMW 5 Series Touring, and a Lexus GS450h as their liveried patrol cars. Armed Response Vehicles are BMW X5s. With regards to vans, for duties such as custody transportation, they use Ford Transits, Mercedes Vitos and Iveco Dailys. Peugeot Experts with dog cages are used for the Dog Section.

Due to Honda being based in Swindon, Wiltshire Police have a contract with them to supply Civics and Accords to the force for civilian and duty purposes. Wiltshire Police also have a contract with BMW.


Wiltshire Police use the modern yellow and blue retro-reflective battenberg markings all over all operational vehicles, as well as the Wiltshire Constabulary crest, and the contact phone number. The only exception of this is NPT cars, which only have markings on the back and front, and read 'Neighbourhood Policing Team' on the side. The Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust have permission to use full police markings on their workshop vans, with 'The Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust' written on the side.

Wiltshire Police stopped using the 'jam sandwich' police car markings between 2000 and 2005 when battenburg markings were invented.


'Wiltshire Constabulary' badge on a police car

Wiltshire Police is one of the few police forces in the UK that has changed its name only once. Policing was once the responsibility of Salisbury City Police, but this was independent and ceased to exist after Wiltshire Police was formed. From 1839 to 2005 police in Wiltshire were called 'Wiltshire Constabulary'. To make the police more accessible it was renamed 'Wiltshire Police'. 'Wiltshire Constabulary' still appears on the force's crest, police livery, police helmets and caps but no longer on press releases, signs and stationery.

Strength and recruitment

Wiltshire Police employs 2,236 people and 350 volunteers. Of these, 1346 are warranted police officers, 147 are Police Community Support Officers, 150 are control room operators and call handlers, and 593 are civilian staff. Of the 350 volunteers, 80 are Police Support Volunteers and 270 are Special Constables.

Wiltshire Police currently is not recruiting constables, PCSOs, transferred officers, civilian staff or control room operators due to budget cuts. They are only hiring for roles that need to be filled.

Wiltshire Police is recruiting people for voluntary roles. Their Police Support Volunteer scheme has doubled in size over the past year, and they now have 80 PSVs. Their Special Constabulary has increased since 2009, with targets of recruiting a total of 300 Specials reached in early 2011.

Training for new recruits in Wiltshire is held at the headquarters in Devizes. For constables it consists of eight months' training and a two-year probationary period. For PCSOs it consists of 18 weeks' training and a 15-weeks probationary period. For Special Constables it consists of 7 months of training during weeknights and weekends, and a mandatory two-year probationary period.

Recruits receive their warrant card and uniform in the first two months of training. Once the training period is over, the new officers are posted in a local division.

Wiltshire Emergency Services

Wiltshire Police is a member of the Wiltshire Emergency Services project, a collaboration of local emergency services. The project has seen the construction of the WES building at Wiltshire Police Headquarters and the relocation of all three control centres into that one emergency control centre, where information is shared instantly between the three. The project also oversees the sharing of the Wiltshire Police helicopter/air ambulance.


British Crime Survey

Wiltshire is one of the safest counties in the UK, with the 6th lowest crime rate per 1000 people in England. Recorded crime dropped by 7%, or 2,706 crimes, between April 2009 and March 2010. Wiltshire Police's detection rate is 6% higher than average, at 28%.

Wiltshire Police also have a favourable public image with the 2nd best in the UK for the public perceptions that police are dealing with anti-social behaviour effectively, and 3rd best in the UK for the public perceptions that police are dealing with drunk and disorderly behaviour effectively.

Drink driving in Wiltshire was highlighted as a problem in the National Summer 2010 Drink Drive Campaign that saw 2.87% of 3377 positive for drink driving in June 2010. However this is a drop of 3.53% from 2009.[20][21]

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary

A report from March 2010 by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary marked Wiltshire Police as 1 out of 10 forces that were graded as being 'excellent' and improving on reducing crime, 'fair' at protecting citizens from serious harm, and 'fair' for confidence and satisfaction. Wiltshire was also 1 of 13 forces classed as 'good' for local policing, and 1 of 13 forces that received no 'poor' grade in any category.[22]

Independent Police Complaints Commission

In the year 2007/8 complaints and allegations recorded slightly decreased from the previous year. Wiltshire Police has one of the lowest rates for 'incivility' allegations at 11%, but one of the highest for 'oppressive conduct or harassment' at 15% and 'breach of PACE Code C' at 9%.

In the same 2007/8 period, Wiltshire Police received 234 complaints and 460 allegations. Wiltshire has an above-average 358 allegations per 100 officers, spread across five categories. Wiltshire Police are 1% or 0% lower on allegations except for 'incivility, impoliteness and intolerance', for which they receive 10% less allegations than the national average.

Of the 460, 26% were investigated, 43% came to a resolution and 31% were withdrawn, dispensed with or discontinued. Of the 26% allegations investigated in 2007/8, 91% were unsubstantiated, 2% higher than the national average.[23]

Chief Constable Patrick Geenty, along with two other officers, are presently under IPCC investigation for alleged mishandling of child sexual abuse complaints.


Battle of the Beanfield

In 1985 Wiltshire Police prevented a vehicle convoy of several hundred new age travellers from setting up at the 11th Stonehenge Free Festival at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, after English Heritage (the custodians of the site) were granted an exclusion zone of some four miles around the Stones. A violent exchange between the travellers and police in riot gear took place over several hours. eight police officers and sixteen travellers were taken to hospital with minor injuries. One traveller suffered from a fractured skull. As much of the action took place in a field containing a bean crop, the events became known as the Battle of the Beanfield.

A sergeant in the Wiltshire Police was subsequently found guilty of having caused actual bodily harm to a traveller. Members of the convoy sued Wiltshire Police for wrongful arrest, assault and criminal damage as a result of the damage to themselves and their property. The Earl of Cardigan (David Brudenell-Bruce, Earl of Cardigan), who had witnessed the events, gave evidence against the police. After four months of hearings, twenty-one of the travellers were successful in their case and were awarded £24,000 in damages.[24]

Sgt. Mark Andrews

In June 2008 Pamela Somerville was arrested near Melksham after being found asleep in her car, for failing to provide a specimen of breath for breath alcohol analysis. The custody officer in Melksham police station, Sergeant Mark Andrews, was accused of assaulting Somerville during her detention, including dragging her through the custody suite and dropping her onto the concrete floor of a detention cell.

Andrews was initially found guilty of actual bodily harm and was sentenced to six months in prison and faced dismissal from the police force. Assistant Chief Constable Patrick Geenty criticised his subordinate and apologised to Somerville.[25][26]

On 14 September 2010 Sgt Andrews was bailed after serving only 6 days of his sentence pending an appeal against his conviction to be held at Oxford Crown court in November 2010.[27]

On Thursday 18 November 2010 Sgt Andrews was cleared of any wrongdoing with regards to the allegation of assault in Melksham Custody against Somerville. Sgt Andrews claimed that Pamela Somerville had grabbed hold of the door frame of the cell and on letting go she had fallen to the floor. Mr Justice Bean declared Somerville was drunk when she was put in the cells and he believed that Sgt Andrews did not intend to throw her to the floor.[28][29]

DCC David Ainsworth

The Deputy Chief Constable David Ainsworth (nicknamed "The Brain" due to his rumoured high intellect) and formerly ACC of Kent Police, was found dead at his home on 22 March 2011. He had hanged himself.[30][31] He had been removed from his normal duties while an "internal staff issue" was investigated.[32] Wiltshire Police allowed South Wales Police and the Independent Police Complaints Commission to conduct an inquiry into the matter. The coroner released Wiltshire Police of any burden noting they had implented 'comprehensive welfare arrangements' for Mr Ainsworth.[33][34] The independent report criticised Wiltshire Police for failing to properly vet Mr Ainsorth when assuming the role of DCC. The report also said the force was "ill-prepared" to deal with the "exceptional situation" of the harassment complaints made.[33] Wiltshire Police responded saying that ACPO should share some of the burden as they had 'green lit' the application for the ACC to DCC promotion, a form that did not include a section for vetting.[33]

Chief Constable Patrick Geenty

Former Chief Constable, Patrick Geenty, is presently under IPCC investigation for alleged mishandling of sexual abuse complaints. On 4 February 2015, Geenty announced his intention to retire in May. Five days later, on 9 February 2015, Geenty reversed this position and announced that he would remain in post until the IPCC investigation was completed. An IPCC spokesman expressed the view that Mr Geenty should not be allowed to retire until the investigation and any subsequent proceedings were completed. The Police Federation criticised the uncertainty and lack of leadership in the force, and called upon Mr Geenty to stand by his original announcement.[35]

PC Ronnie Lungu

Wiltshire Police was found, in a 2015 Employment Tribunal decision, to have racially harassed and discriminated against a black officer, PC Ronnie Lungu.[36]

Budget cuts

Proposed merger

In 2006 the Home Office announced plans to reduce the number of police forces in the UK from 42 to 24 in an attempt to save money. The plans were abandoned later that year due to lack of funding for the mergers, but the idea has resurfaced many times.

The proposed idea would see Wiltshire Police merge with Gloucestershire Constabulary, Devon and Cornwall Police, Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Dorset Police to form a 'super police force'.

The plans have been publicly criticised by all the involved forces, stating that it would lead to poor quality service and a reduction in local policing.[37]

Speed cameras

After a 27% loss of funding from the Department of Transport, Chief Executives of Wiltshire and Swindon Camera Safety Partnership decided to switch off all fixed speed cameras, causing the loss of 40 jobs. Despite a 33% reduction in deaths and injuries on Wiltshire roads the decision to close the partnership was made in early August 2010. ACC Geenty said 'This has been a very difficult decision and one that the partners have agonised over because we are of course committed to continuing to improve road safety'.[38][39][40]

In the media

Wiltshire Police officers are often featured on the Bravo police-reality programmes 'Brit Cops: Zero Tolerance' and 'Brit Cops: Frontline Crime'; the show usually follows officers in Salisbury or Swindon. The show is often repeated on Virgin 1.[41] Wiltshire Police officers based at Salisbury station are featured in Nights Cops,[42] a shadowing documentary following officers who work nights shifts in city centres. The Motorcycle Policing unit was featured on Channel 5's Emergency Bikers in Series 2 where they escorted a Hercules from Wootton Bassett towards Somerset.

Wiltshire Police is also often featured in the county's newspapers, the Gazette and Herald, Wiltshire Times, The Swindon Advertiser, The Swindon Star and The Star. It is featured less frequently on the local news programmes: BBC Points West and ITV The West Country Tonight.[43][44]

Wiltshire Police headquarters was used as a police building for an opening shot in the 1992 version of Agatha Christie's The ABC Murders, for which all cars and signs were removed.

Other activities

Wiltshire Police Cadets

Wiltshire Police had a police cadet scheme until August 1980 when it was closed, along with many other similar schemes in the UK. The cadets wore uniforms the same as constables, except with a blue-banded peaked cap and 'Cadet' on their epaulettes.

The scheme gave rise to many of the force's constables. For instance, the current Chief Inspector of Swindon Operations, Mike Jones, was in the last ever cadet unit in the Wiltshire Police.[45] There has been discussion to roll out a police cadet scheme based on the example of the North Wales Police, but due to economic circumstances it seems unlikely that such a scheme would be re-introduced.[46]

The 2013 Crime Plan written by PCC Angus Macpherson announced initial plans to restart the Wiltshire Police Cadets. The purpose of the scheme was outlaid as a way of engaging with young people and gaining a resource for minor policing matters. However, the scheme does not allude to recruitment from the cadets, as had been the case in the 1980s.

Wiltshire Police Band

The Wiltshire Police Band is an arm of the Wiltshire Police recreational club.[47] In October 1984, The Band of the Wiltshire Constabulary was formed by a small group of enthusiastic musicians from within the police force. At first membership was restricted only to officers, but after three years membership was permitted to civilians who were involved in police business. Today Wiltshire Police Band has 26 musicians and plays various engagement throughout the year. They practice every Tuesday at Wiltshire Police Headquarters in Devizes.

The Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust

The Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust was set up in 1998 by Chief Constable Dame Elizabeth Neville. It is an independent charity that provides home security to victims of crime, and Wiltshire's elderly and disadvantaged.[48] It currently funds three 'bobby vans' that serve as mobile workshops to the three operators, who are trained locksmiths, carpenters, crime reduction officers and fire risk assessors. The operators travel around the county installing equipment to those who need it, free of charge. They are directed by coordinators who prioritise the referrals received from eight different sources.

The Bobby Van Trust works closely with Wiltshire Police and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service. However, it is independently funded through public donations and small government grants.

The Bobby Van Trust is made up of three operators, three coordinators, 11 trustees and 1 police liaison officer. The current director is Jennie Shaw, the chairman Robert Hiscox and the patron HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

For the financial year of 2009 the Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust raised £256,153, a decrease of £2984 from 2008, and spent £231,692, an increase of 10,908.[49][50]


Schools & Police Liaison Activities for School Holidays is an organisation that provides activities for children under 16 during school holidays, particularly during the summer.[51] Whilst it is an independent charity that was set up in 1992, it is considered a branch of Wiltshire Police, is based at Chippenham Police Station and is a sub-department of Diversity and Community Affairs, headed by Inspector Bonner-Smith. SPLASH also works with Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council;, they and Wiltshire Police all have representatives for the charity.

SPLASH provides activities throughout Wiltshire, subsidizes the cost of some existing activities and subsidizes the cost of their activities for certain people. It raises money through public donations and small government grants.

SPLASH is made up of 6 independent trustees, 1 Wiltshire Police trustee, 3 Wiltshire Council representatives, 2 Swindon Council representatives and 2 Wiltshire Police representatives.[52] SPLASH is staffed by three managers and Police Support Volunteers.

For the financial year of 2009 SPLASH raised £70,998, a decrease of £51,103 from 2008 and spent £103,142, a decrease of 11,853 from 2008.[53][54]

Blues 'N' Zuz

Blues 'N' Zuz is a not-for-profit organisation, run by Wiltshire Police, that operates a travelling disco nightclub for teenagers aged between 12 and 16 in Wiltshire. The discos, which occur once a month in many market towns, are arranged and staffed by police constables, PCSOs and volunteers, and usually carry a theme to them. Some events are also attended by Wiltshire Fire and Rescue officers.[55] The discos are strictly non-alcoholic and no-drugs events. Transport to and from the events is available free of charge from many locations in Wiltshire.

The project was created as a diversionary activity to reduce anti-social behaviour and improve relations between young people and the police.[56] The discos are attended by 100 - 200 children per event every month, and attendance is made up of 60% females and 40% males.[56]

Blues 'N' Zuz discos take place in town halls, village halls, community centres and leased nightclubs in Salisbury, Devizes, Melksham, Trowbridge, Chippenham, Marlborough, Tidworth, Calne, Malmesbury, Corsham, Westbury, and Warminster.

Although the effectiveness of the events is hard to measure, anti-social behaviour in Salisbury in 2008 was reduced 37% on the evenings the events were held, compared to the same days in 2007.[57]

Officers killed in the line of duty

The Police Memorial Trust lists and commemorates all British police officers killed in the line of duty, and since its establishment in 1984 has erected over 38 memorials to some of those officers.

The following officers of Wiltshire Police are listed by the Trust as having died during the course of their duties:[58]

  • PC Daniel John Cooper, 2010 (road traffic accident)
  • Sgt Michael Ivor Tucker, 1991 (heart attack during firearms training)
  • PC John Lewis Marsh, 1989 (collapsed and died after struggling to arrest a suspect)
  • DC Mark Herbert, 1987 (road traffic accident)
  • PC Desmond Derrick Kellam, 1979 (attacked by a suspect)
  • PC Philip Stephen Russell, 1978 (road traffic accident)
  • PC Leonard Alan Harding, 1977 (road traffic accident)
  • PC Robert Edward Cray, 1973 (struck by car)
  • PC Colin D. R. Hayward, 1968 (road traffic accident)
  • PC Cedric A. Hemming, 1968 (struck by car)
  • PC Maurice William Foord, 1961 (struck by car)
  • Chief Insp Edmund Richard Norris, 1955 (road traffic accident)
  • War Reserve Constable Albert William Newman, 1942 (shot)
  • Insp Albert Enos Mitchell (road traffic accident)
  • PC Henry G. Tanner, 1931 (road traffic accident)
  • PC Frank Gray, 1929 (road traffic accident)
  • Sgt William Frank Crouch, 1913 (shot)
  • Supt Frederick Bull, 1892 (fatally injured while riding horse)
  • Sgt Enos Molden, 1892 (shot)
  • PC Andrew Albert Reuben Hancock, 1875 (attacked during a disturbance)

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External links