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POLICE ACT 1996

UK Public General Acts

Version 01/11/2002

1996 CHAPTER 16

Default Geographical Extent: E+W+S+N.I.


  • Part I (E+W+S). Organisation of Police Forces
    • Police areas (E+W)
    • Forces outside London (E+W+S)
    • The metropolitan police force (E+W)
    • The metropolitan police and forces outside London] (E+W+S)
    • General provisions (E+W)
    • Alteration of police areas (E+W)
    • Supplemental (E+W)
  • Part II (E+W). Central Supervision, Direction and Facilities
    • F unctions of Secretary of State (E+W)
    • Inspectors of constabulary (E+W)
    • Central services (E+W)
  • Part III. Police Representative Institutions
  • Part IV (E+W+S). Complaints, disciplinary proceedings etc.
    • Chapter I (E+W+S). Complaints
      • Interpretation (E+W)
      • The Police Complaints Authority (E+W+S)
      • Handling of Complaints etc. (E+W)
    • Chapter II (E+W). Disciplinary and other proceedings
  • Part V. Miscellaneous and General
    • Offences (E+W)
    • Miscellaneous financial provisions (E+W)
    • Miscellaneous
    • Supplemental
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  • Version 22/08/1996

Introductory Text

Police Act 1996

1996 CHAPTER 16

An Act to consolidate the Police Act 1964, Part IX of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, Chapter I of Part I of the Police and Magistrates’ Courts Act 1994 and certain other enactments relating to the police.

[22nd May 1996]

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

Annotations:

Extent Information

E1 For the extent of this Act see s.105

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

C1 Act applied (6.11.2000) by 1998 c. 32, s. 51, Sch. 3 para. 8(8); S.R. 2000/399, art. 3 (with arts. 4-5)

Act: power to modify conferred (2.4.2001) by 2000 c. 39, s. 7(2); S.I. 2001/766, art. 2(1)(a) (with art. 3)

Commencement Information

I1 Act partly in force at 22.8.1996, partly prospective; see s.104; Act wholly in force at 1.4.1999 by S.I. 1999/533, arts. 2, 3


Part I (E+W+S)
Organisation of Police Forces



Police areas (E+W)


1 Police areas. (E+W)

(1) England and Wales shall be divided into police areas.

(2) The police areas referred to in subsection (1) shall be—

(a) those listed in Schedule 1 (subject to any amendment made to that Schedule by an order under section 32 below, section 58 of the M1 Local Government Act 1972, or section 17 of the M2 Local Government Act 1992) ,
(b) the metropolitan police district, and
(c) the City of London police area.
(3) References in Schedule 1 to any local government area are to that area as it is for the time being, F1 . . ..

Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F1 Words in s. 1(3) repealed (1.4.2000) by 1999 c. 29, ss. 325, 423, Sch. 27 para. 69, Sch. 34 Pt. VII (with Sch. 12 para. 9(1)); S.I. 1999/3271, art. 4(b)(c)(d)

Marginal Citations

M1 1972 c. 70.

M2 1992 c. 19.


Forces outside London (E+W+S)


2 Maintenance of police forces. (E+W)

A police force shall be maintained for every police area for the time being listed in Schedule 1.

3 Establishment of police authorities. (E+W)

(1) There shall be a police authority for every police area for the time being listed in Schedule 1.

(2) A police authority established under this section for any area shall be a body corporate to be known by the name of the area with the addition of the words “ Police Authority ”.

4 Membership of police authorities etc. (E+W)

(1) Subject to subsection (2) , each police authority established under section 3 shall consist of seventeen members.

(2) The Secretary of State may by order provide in relation to a police authority specified in the order that the number of its members shall be a specified odd number greater than seventeen.

(3) A statutory instrument containing an order under subsection (2) shall be laid before Parliament after being made.

(4) Schedules 2 and 3 shall have effect in relation to police authorities established under section 3 and the appointment of their members.

5 Reductions in size of police authorities. (E+W)

(1) This section applies to any order under section 4(2) which varies or revokes an earlier order so as to reduce the number of a police authority’s members.

(2) Before making an order to which this section applies, the Secretary of State shall consult—

(a) the authority,
(b) the councils which are relevant councils in relation to the authority for the purposes of Schedule 2, and
(c) any selection panel, constituted under regulations made in accordance with [F2 section 29(2) of the Justices of the Peace Act 1997] , which is responsible, or is represented on a joint committee which is responsible, for the appointment of members of the authority.
(3) An order to which this section applies may include provision as to the termination of the appointment of the existing members of the authority and the making of new appointments or re-appointments.

Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F2 Words in s. 5(2)(c) substituted (19.6.1997) by 1997 c. 25, ss. 73(2), 74(1), Sch. 5 para. 37(2)


[F3 The metropolitan police force (E+W)


Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F3 Ss. 5A-5C and heading inserted (1.1.2000 for specified purposes and otherwise on the "operative date" (as defined in art. 1(2)(c) of S.I. 2000/1095) for specified purposes and on 3.7.2000 for all other purposes) by 1999 c. 29, s. 310(1) (with Sch. 12 para. 9(1)); S.I. 1999/3271, art. 3(a); S.I. 2000/1095, arts. 4-6


F4 5A Maintenance of the metropolitan police force. (E+W)

A police force shall be maintained for the metropolitan police district.

Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F4 Ss. 5A-5C inserted (1.1.2000 for specified purposes and otherwise on the "operative date" (as defined in art. 1(2)(c) of S.I. 2000/1095) for specified purposes and on 3.7.2000 for all other purposes) by 1999 c. 29, s. 310(1) (with Sch. 12 para. 9(1)); S.I. 1999/3271, art. 3(a); S.I. 2000/1095, arts. 4-6


F5 5B Establishment of the Metropolitan Police Authority. (E+W)

(1) There shall be a police authority for the metropolitan police district.

(2) The police authority established under this section shall be a body corporate to be known as the Metropolitan Police Authority.

Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F5 Ss. 5A-5B inserted (1.1.2000 for specified purposes and otherwise on the "operative date" (as defined in art. 1(2)(c) of S.I. 2000/1095) for specified purposes and on 3.7.2000 for all other purposes) by 1999 c. 29, s. 310(1) (with Sch. 12 para. 9(1)); S.I. 1999/3271, art. 3(a); S.I. 2000/1095, arts. 4-6)


F6 5C Membership etc of the Metropolitan Police Authority. (E+W)

(1) The Metropolitan Police Authority shall consist of twenty three members (subject to subsection (2) ).

(2) The Secretary of State may by order provide that the number of members of the Metropolitan Police Authority shall be a specified odd number not less than seventeen.

(3) Before making an order under subsection (2) which reduces the number of members of the Metropolitan Police Authority, the Secretary of State shall consult—

(a) the Greater London Authority;
(b) the Metropolitan Police Authority; and
(c) the person or body responsible for the appointment of members of the Greater London Magistrates’ Courts Authority under regulations made under section 30B of the Justices of the M3 Peace Act 1997 (which, by virtue of paragraph 5(b) of Schedule 2A to this Act, appoints magistrates to be members of the Metropolitan Police Authority).
(4) An order under subsection (2) which reduces the number of members of the Metropolitan Police Authority may include provision as to the termination of the appointment of the existing members of the Metropolitan Police Authority and the making of new appointments or re-appointments.

(5) A statutory instrument containing an order under subsection (2) shall be laid before Parliament after being made.

(6) Schedules 2A and 3 shall have effect in relation to the Metropolitan Police Authority and the appointment of its members.]

Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F6 Ss. 5A-5C inserted (1.1.2000 for specified purposes and otherwise on the "operative date" (as defined in art. 1(2)(c) of S.I. 2000/1095) for specified purposes and on 3.7.2000 for all other purposes) by 1999 c. 29, s. 310(1) (with Sch. 12 para. 9(1)); S.I. 1999/3271, art. 3(a); S.I. 2000/1095, arts. 4-6

Marginal Citations

M3 1997 c. 25.


[F7 The metropolitan police and forces outside London] (E+W+S)


Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F7 Ss. 5A-5C and headings inserted (1.1.2000 for specified purposes and otherwise on the "operative date" (as defined in art. 1(2)(c) of S.I. 2000/1095) for specified purposes and on 3.7.2000 for all other purposes) by 1999 c. 29, s. 310(1) (with Sch. 12 para. 9(1)); S.I. 1999/3271, art. 3(a); S.I. 2000/1095, arts. 4-6


6 General functions of police authorities. (E+W)

(1) Every police authority established under section 3 shall secure the maintenance of an efficient and effective police force for its area.

(2) In discharging its functions, every police authority established under section 3 shall have regard to—

(a) any objectives determined by the Secretary of State under section 37,
(b) any objectives determined by the authority under section 7,
(c) any performance targets established by the authority, whether in compliance with a direction under section 38 or otherwise, and
(d) any local policing plan issued by the authority under section 8.
(3) In discharging any function to which a code of practice issued under section 39 relates, a police authority established under section 3 shall have regard to the code.

(4) A police authority shall comply with any direction given to it by the Secretary of State under section 38 or 40.

[F8 (5) This section shall apply in relation to the Metropolitan Police Authority as it applies in relation to a police authority established under section 3]

Annotations:

Amendments (Textual)

F8 S. 6(5) inserted (3.7.2000) by 1999 c. 29, s. 311 (with Sch. 12 para. 9(1)); S.I. 2000/1648, art. 2, Sch