Special constable

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Under Schedule 1 (64): the following are subject to FOI:

64 - Any person who—
(a) by virtue of any enactment has the function of nominating individuals who may be appointed as special constable by justices of the peace, and
(b) is not a public authority by virtue of any other provision of this Act
in respect of information relating to the exercise by any person appointed on his nomination of the functions of a special constable.

Port police

This is clearly targeted at section 79 of the Harbours, Docks and Piers Clauses Act 1847:

Any two justices may appoint such persons as shall be nominated for that purpose by the undertakers to be special constables ...

This applies to several port undertakers, including:

Various other persons have powers to appoint or nominate constables in a similar fashion, including:

  • The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company Limited (07438262), by virtue of article 3 of SI 1975/1224:
    3.—(1) Any two justices of the peace may appoint such persons as shall be nominated for that purpose by the Company to act as constables within the port police area, ...
  • (claims not to be a public authority)
  • Port of Tilbury London Limited (02659118) by virtue of the Port of London Act 1968, transferred by SI 1992/284:
    154.—(1) The Port Authority may appoint persons to be constables and a person so appointed shall, on appointment, be attested as a constable by making a declaration before a justice of the peace in the form set out in Schedule 6 to this Act.
  • PD Teesport Limited (02636007), by virtue of section 103 of the Tees and Hartlepools Port Authority Act 1966, transferred by SI 1991/2908:
    103.—(1) The Authority may continue and maintain the separate police force ... for police duty within the harbour, and may from time to time appoint officers and men for that purpose who shall hold office at pleasure.
    (3) Every member of the said separate police force shall, on appointment, be attested as a constable by making a declaration before a justice of the peace having jurisdiction within the harbour and such declaration shall be in the form set out in Schedule 2 to the Police Act 1964.
  • An appropriately authorised airport operator (of which the only one[1] is Belfast International Airport Limited (NI027630)) in Northern Ireland, by virtue of article 19 of the Airports (Northern Ireland) Order 1994:
    (1) An airport operator authorised in that behalf by the Secretary of State may appoint any person employed by the operator to be a constable on the airport managed by that operator.
    (3) Every person appointed under paragraph (1) shall on his appointment make a declaration before a justice of the peace to execute the office of a constable on the airport for which he was appointed, and, when he has made the declaration, he shall on that airport have the powers and privileges and be liable to the duties and responsibilities of a constable.

While not in precisely the terms envisaged by FOIA, these are all basically the same. From Halsbury's Laws, it would seem that the distinction between nominating a constable for appointment by the justices and appointing a constable who must be sworn by the justices doesn't exist in practice, since the justices must appoint anyone who's nominated anyway.

Unused powers

Some harbour authorities have the right to appoint constables but don't currently seem to do so. These include:


There is one other case that is different, though:

  • The chancellors and vice chancellors of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, by virtue of the Universities Act 1825:
    It shall be lawful for the chancellor or vice chancellor of the said universities respectively to appoint such number of able men as he shall think fit to be constables in and for the said universities respectively ... ; and to every man so appointed such chancellor or vice chancellor shall administer an oath well and faithfully to execute the office of constable, ...

Here, the local justices aren't involved at all and the oath is administered by the chancellor or vice-chancellor themselves. This would appear to take them outside the remit of the Act (though the Universities themselves are covered by other means).

Oxford University disbanded its University Police in 2003[2]

Former port police

DfT has a useful description of the various bodies of port police. It also lists a few former port police forces that might still be authorised:

  • Manchester Dock Police
  • Milford Dock Police

Navigation authorities

Unused powers

York Minster Police

The York Minster Police are apparently[3] not attested as constables, so the Dean and Chapter of York are likely to be either not covered by the Act or covered but uninterestingly (because they can hold no relevant information).