Lancashire Constabulary

Lancashire Constabulary is the territorial police force responsible for policing the ceremonial county of Lancashire in North West England. The force's headquarters are at Hutton, near the city of Preston. As of October 2018 the force had just under 3,000 officers as well as 2,000 Police Staff - of which 272 are police community support officers.

Lancashire Constabulary
Agency overview
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionLancashire, UK
Map of Lancashire Constabulary's jurisdiction.
Size2,903 km²
HeadquartersHutton, near Preston
Police Officers2,910 (of which 467 are Special Constables) [1]
Police and Crime Commissioner responsible
Agency executive
  • Andy Rhodes, Chief Constable


After many complaints over a number of years over the crime ridden state of Lancashire it was decided in 1839 that a combined county police force was required to police the county. In the same year the force was founded and Captain John Woodford was made chief constable with two assistant chief constables, 14 superintendents and 660 constables.

Over the next 50 years the police force saw many changes including the introduction of the police helmet and, during the 1860s, the force lost its first officer, PC Jump, who died after being shot by a group of men that he and a colleague were searching. By the end of the century the force had developed a detective department who were allowed to wear plain clothes. The first detective appointed was John Wallbank.

In 1917 the force first allowed female officers although it was only in the 1950s that they were allowed uniforms, and not until the 1970s were they paid at the same rate as their male counterparts. In 1948 the force's dog section was established with many differing breeds being used, but by the 1950s it was established that the German shepherd was the most suitable.

In 1965, the force had an establishment of 3,784 officers and an actual strength of 3,454, making it the second largest police force (after the Metropolitan Police) and the largest county force in Great Britain.[2]

The force then went through major changes in the 1970s when the force was reduced to cover the new re-bordered Lancashire with the other areas coming under the jurisdiction of Greater Manchester Police and Merseyside Police.

On 10 October 2007 the Home Office announced that Lancashire Constabulary had ranked joint first, with Surrey, out of 43 forces by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabularies. All 43 police forces were assessed on seven areas - tackling crime, serious crime, protecting vulnerable people, satisfaction, neighbourhood policing, local priorities and resources and efficiency.

The Radio Branch or Wireless Workshops pioneered many techniques in the use of radio by the police. In 1925 they had radio communications between constabulary headquarters in Preston and six divisional headquarters. A year later a van was equipped with a transmitter. Tests were done with radio communication to cars in the 1930s. In 1939 four fixed stations provided coverage over much of the county. At the start of World War II divisional headquarters were equipped with transmitter-receivers as a back-up to the telephone system. This was used in 1941 when the telephone system in Liverpool was put out of action by bombing, Lancashire Constabulary's radio system was sole means of communications with the city for a time. After the war they were involved in the development and move to VHF FM by the UK police. In 1961 a personal radio scheme was installed in Chorley with Motorola VHF personal radios imported from the USA after a demonstration in Stretford in 1959.

This led in 1963 to the design of the Lancon[3] VHF personal radio manufactured by GEC.[4]

History since 2000

Proposed merger

Under proposals made by the home secretary on 6 February 2006, it was to be merged with Cumbria Constabulary. These were accepted by both forces on 26 February, and the merger would have taken place on 1 April 2007.[5] However, in July 2006, both Cumbria and Lancashire constabularies decided not to proceed with the merger because the government failed to remedy issues with the council tax precept which left both forces unable to proceed.

Intelligence analysis

Over recent years, Lancashire Constabulary has developed a reputation for leading the way in intelligence analysis and holds an annual intelligence analysis conference in Blackpool attended by a large number of analysts from other UK police forces and law enforcement agencies. Other forces are now looking to Lancashire as a pioneering force in IT support. In particular in 2007 Cumbria police (and more recently Durham Constabulary) secured their own version of Lancashire's intelligence, police investigation and work management system SLEUTH; an easy to use front line focussed alternative to NICHE Record Management System.


At the end of 2017 Lancashire Constabulary formed the Tactical Operations Team (TacOps for short) which is composed of the Roads Policing Unit, Dog Unit, Mounted Branch, Armed Response Unit and Operational Support Unit.

Divisions and collaborations

The force is split into 5 divisions, three geographical and two based at the force HQ at Hutton. The split is approximate, and divisions are deliberately vague, giving a seamless approach to policing in the Lancashire area. The geographical divisions and their headquarters are as follows:

The headquarters are in Blackpool from where this division is responsible for the Fylde area stretching from Bispham down to Kirkham. Lancaster is also assigned with the policing of Morecambe, Heysham and the Wyre area. A new divisional HQ was opened in 2018. [6]
The headquarters are in Lancaster Road, Preston, with a secondary base at Chorley Magistrates' Court: it polices the Preston, South Ribble, Chorley and West Lancashire areas.
Based at Greenbank, Blackburn, this division is primarily assigned to police the Blackburn with Darwen, Ribble Valley and Accrington, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale areas.
G Division
Headquarters; encompassing the Force Intelligence Department (F.I.D), Serious Organised Crime Unit (S.O.C.U) and Special Branch (S.B).
H Division
Operations Support and Operations Planning, which encompasses Motorway, Armed Response, Air Support, Mounted and various other functions.

Lancashire Constabulary partners with the North West Police Underwater Search & Marine Unit and the North West Motorway Police Group.

Police stations

The constabulary has 36 full-time stations across the county with over 100 further police posts and smaller village stations. Although the county has this large number of stations less than half have adequate provisions to hold prisoners.

The training of student officers is undertaken at police headquarters (Hutton). In addition, specialist training and certain specialist units such as the dog section and mounted department are based at the force's HQ at Hutton.


The routine patrol officer is not armed but does carry a baton (either an ASP, Monadnock MX21 or Deanside ESP), a PAVA incapacitant spray, limb restraints (leg restraints), a first aid kit, a torch and rigid handcuffs. All police officers, special constables, PCSOs and civilian members of staff are required to wear a stab vest when on duty and "not in an office environment"; most choose to wear their vest at all times. Lancashire Constabulary issues black stab vests made by German manufacturer "Mehler Vario Systems". Although officers are not routinely armed, many response and neighbourhood policing officers are now trained in the use of taser guns and routinely carry them whilst on patrol. Lancashire also has several Armed Response teams carrying G36 assault rifles, Glock pistols and taser guns.

In September 2014 the force rolled out the use of 150 body-mounted cameras, for officers in ‘response’ roles, following a successful pilot scheme.[7] All officers are now trained to use them and many choose to use them on every shift. However it is not mandatory for officers to wear them at all times.

All officers also carry two-way radios registered to Airwave Solutions, a nationwide radio network in the UK on which police and other emergency rely. Based on the TETRA standard, the radio network is secure and fully protected against eavesdropping on transmissions, as well as allowing interoperability with other police services, fire brigades, as well as ambulance services. For the Lancashire Police, Motorola MTH800s are the radios of choice.

Motorway unit

The force's motorway policing unit has headquarters at Samlesbury near Preston. The unit is led by a single inspector who in turn is responsible for seven sergeants and 43 police constables. The unit also operates a vehicle checking station at Cuerden between Chorley and Preston on the M65, this is done in co-operation with VOSA.

Lancashire's motorway unit is one of the four forces that make up the North West Motorway Police Group along with Merseyside Police, Greater Manchester Police and Cheshire Constabulary.[8]


Beat patrol car
The standard patrol car is the Hyundai i30 but this is currently being phased out in favour of the new Peugeot 308.

Roads Policing Unit
Lancashire Constabulary TacOps uses BMW 3 Series estates and BMW X5 SUVs for roads policing. Previously they used a fleet of BMW 5 Series estates, and prior to that the Vauxhall Vectra.

Lancashire Constabulary uses the BMW R1200RT. These are primarily used for traffic enforcement and escort duties .

Motorway vehicles are primarily BMW 3 Series Estates. The BMW typically carries VASCAR equipment, mobile video equipment and tracker. The BMWs carry a lot more equipment compared to the vehicles used by the TacOps Unit, including a camera, tape measure, carriage marking spray, tow rope, hazard and police tape, portable blue lights, cones and a first aid kit.

Operations Support Unit
The OSU (Operations Support Unit), known colloquially as a "riot van", is used for providing a response to public order incidents and also finds use during Operation Summer Nights and similar initiatives. It is able to carry up to ten people including the driver. Lancashire Constabulary has 33 carriers in use across the county. It has special features including headlight grilles, which protect the headlights when missiles are thrown at the vehicle, a windscreen grille, which helps protect the vehicle's windscreen and officers when missiles are thrown at the vehicle, and run flat tyres.

Section van
Lancashire Constabulary primarily uses the Ford Transit Custom and the Vauxhall Vivaro both of which have been specially modified in order to transport detained persons safely and securely.
Armed response vehicle (ARV)
Lancashire Constabulary currently has six armed response vehicles, which are based within the six divisions in Lancashire. Currently the vehicle of choice for armed response officers is the BMW X5 SUV. They are crewed by two or three authorised firearms officers and have a safe, which holds firearms equipment.

Dog van
The force uses multiple vehicles in order to transport dogs, including Ford Transits and specially modified Ford Escort Estates. The big vans can carry up to four dogs and the smaller cars can carry up to two dogs. The vehicles have been modified with ventilation equipment installed in to the roofs allowing ample ventilation to the rear of the cars.

Air Support Unit

This now defunct unit operated an EC135 helicopter based at BAE Warton. The force had an ASU since 1994 when it fielded a Eurocopter Squirrel[9] but this was retired in the early 2000s as it was replaced by the newer EC 135.

Since 2013 air support has been provided by the National Police Air Service, which provides air support to all police forces in England & Wales.

Firearms unit

Due to police officers in the county not being routinely armed the force has its own specialised firearms unit based at locations around the county. The force has at any one time has nine armed officers on patrol. The standard issue weapon is the Glock SLP whilst officers are also armed with the Heckler & Koch G36 carbine. Tasers are carried by all armed response officers as well as officers from the Tactical Operations Team and appropriately trained local officers. The Firearms unit utilise the BMW X5 SUV as their patrol vehicle which has been modified in order to carry specialist equipment particular to their role. As well being trained in firearms, AFOs are also trained in other skills such as method of entry and advanced pursuit tactics.

Chief Constables

  • 1839–1856: John Woodford
  • 1859–1868: William P. Elgee
  • 1868–1876: Colonel Robert Bruce
  • 1877–1880: Charles Legge
  • 1880-1909: Henry Martin Moorsom
  • ?–1912: Charles Villiers Ibbetson
  • 1912–1927: Sir Philip Lane
  • 1927–1935: Wilfred Trubshaw
  • 1935–1950: Archibald Frederick Hordern
  • 1950–1967: Sir Eric St Johnston (Chief Inspector of Constabulary, 1967)
  • 1967–1972: William Palfrey
  • ?1972–1977: Stanley Parr (dismissed for disreputable conduct)
  • 1978–?1983: Albert Laugharne
  • 1983–1995: Robert Brian Johnson
  • 1995–2002: Pauline Clare
  • 2002–2005: Paul Stephenson
  • 2005–2017: Stephen Finnigan
  • 2017–: Andy Rhodes

Officers killed in the line of duty

The Police Roll of Honour Trust lists and commemorates all British police officers killed in the line of duty.

The following officers of Lancashire Constabulary are listed by the trust as having died attempting to prevent, stop or solve a crime:[10]

  • PC Peter Burnett, 1990 (collapsed and died attempting to disperse rioters)
  • PC Ian Wain Woodward, 1987 (shot dead)
  • Acting Sgt Walter Lacey, 1978 (collapsed and died attempting to arrest a suspect)
  • Supt Gerry Richardson GC, 1971 (shot dead attempting to arrest a gunman who had shot a fellow officer; posthumously awarded the George Cross)
  • PC Ernest Southern, 1962 (collapsed and died attending a street affray)
  • DI James O'Donnell QPM, 1958 (shot dead attempting to arrest a gunman who had shot two others; posthumously awarded the Queen's Police Medal)
  • PC Sydney Arthur Tysoe, 1949 (died from injuries sustained during an arrest in 1940)
  • War Reserve Constable John Towers, 1943 (died from injuries sustained in an assault)
  • PC Stewart Mungo Whillis, 1907 (died from injuries sustained in an assault in 1901)
  • PC Nicholas Cock, 1876 (fatally shot arresting armed burglars)
  • PC William Jump, 1862 (shot dead attempting to arrest an armed gang)

See also


  1. "Lancashire Constabulary 'About Us'". Lancashire Constabulary. 9 October 2019. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  2. The Thin Blue Line, Police Council for Great Britain Staff Side Claim for Undermanning Supplements, 1965
  3. "G8EPR Pye Museum - GEC LANCON". 12 December 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  4. Mobile radio for Lancashire's police, J. Davies, Electronics & Wireless World
  5. "UK | England | Police force merger is approved". BBC News. 24 February 2006. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  6. "Lancashire Constabulary HQ completed". Place North West. August 2018.
  7. "GMP officers to trial use of 'body cameras'". Manchester Evening News. 2 September 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  8. Archived from the original on 15 February 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2008. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. Hayles, John. "UK Police Aviation". Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  10. "Police Roll of Honour Trust". Retrieved 31 March 2016.
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