Northumbria Police

Northumbria Police is the territorial police force responsible for policing the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear (comprised of the metropolitan boroughs of Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and the City of Sunderland), as well as the ceremonial county of Northumberland. It is the largest police service in North East England.


In terms of police officer numbers, Northumbria Police is the ninth largest police force in England and Wales with 3,155 police officers, 125 special constables, 204 police community support officers and 1,649 police staff (as of 2020). The force is also the ninth largest force in terms of geographic area of responsibility of the 43 territorial forces of England and Wales. The force headquarters are located at Middle Engine lane in Wallsend, North Tyneside. However, significant numbers of functions have been dispersed to various locations throughout the force area as part of plans to reduce costs, with the stated intention of operating without a traditional headquarters function. As of February 2018, the acting Chief Constable is Winton Keenen, whose appointment became effective in October 2017. Former chief constables include Sir Stanley Bailey (1975–1991); John Stevens, Baron Stevens of Kirkwhelpington (1991–1996); Crispian Strachan CBE (1998–2005), Mike Craik (2005–2010), Sue Sim (2010–2015, including a period as temporary chief constable) and Steve Ashman (2015–2017).


The force was formed in 1974 and was a merger of the old Northumberland Constabulary along with part of the Durham Constabulary. The police forces for the county boroughs of South Shields, Gateshead, Sunderland, Newcastle upon Tyne and Tynemouth had already been amalgamated into their respective county forces in 1969, with the Berwick-upon-Tweed police having been merged into Northumberland County Constabulary in 1921.

Notable operations

In July 2010, Raoul Moat targeted Northumbria Police officers after his release from Durham Prison. A historic manhunt was initiated by Northumbria Police, calling upon mutual aid assistance from Durham Constabulary, Cleveland Police, Cumbria Police, West Yorkshire Police, South Yorkshire Police, Humberside Police, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Metropolitan Police. The Metropolitan Police deployed 40 firearms officers to Northumbria Police, most of whom were specialised in the use of sniper rifles. Notably, the Police Service of Northern Ireland dispatched 20 specialist off-road armoured vehicles to help in the search on rough terrain in Northumberland.

In January 2014, Northumbria Police launched Operation Sanctuary to investigate sexual abuse gangs targeting vulnerable young white girls. In June 2014 the operation had identified 80 victims and the number of arrests had reached 104.

Public controversies

In May 2016, details emerged of an affair between former Chief Constable Mike Craik and then Assistant Chief Constable Carolyn Peacock. Peacock's husband – also then a serving police officer – found out about the affair at a barbecue, and attacked Craik. Officers from Northumbria Police were called to the incident, which was later removed from all police logs on order of the Chief Constable, and legally banned from reporting in the courts. The legal bans were lifted, after the former Head of Legal sued the force for unfair dismissal.

Chief Officer team

As of October 2020, the Chief Officer team consists of the following:

  • Chief Constable – Winton Keenen
  • Deputy Chief Constable – Debbie Ford
  • Assistant Chief Constable – Rachel Bacon
  • Assistant Chief Constable – Scott Young
  • Assistant Chief Constable (temporary) – Scott Hall
  • Assistant Chief Constable (temporary) – Neil Hutchison

Proposed mergers

Under proposals made by the Home Secretary on 6 February 2006, Northumbria was to merge with Cleveland Police and Durham Constabulary to form a single strategic police force for North East England. Both Northumbria and Durham favoured this proposal, while Cleveland expressed a wish that it be merged with the southern area of the Durham force. All proposals regarding force mergers were subsequently dropped nationwide.

Funding cuts

Northumbria Police has faced budget cuts of 23% since 2010, higher than any other police force in England and Wales. Former Chief constable, Steve Ashman expressed fears Northumbria police could soon be unable to provide an adequate service. Ashman said, "If the day of not being able to provide a professional service was here, I would say. It is not here, but it is getting very, very close." Northumbria police received £259.6 million for the year 2017–18 which is up slightly from £259.5 in 2016–17. This small rise is insufficient to compensate for inflation currently at just under 3% per year. Northumbria police experienced a funding cut in real terms. Most Northumbrian police stations now close at 8.00 pm or earlier, and people needing the police after that time must use the telephone or an interactive service.


There are two inter-operable communication centres:

  • Northern Communication Centre (NCC) which deals with all stations and commands North of the Tyne, based at Ponteland, Northumberland.
  • Southern Communication Centre (SCC) which deals with all stations and commands South of the Tyne, based at South Shields police station.

Chief Constables

Officers killed in the line of duty

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

Since 1900, the following officers of Northumbria Police and its predecessors are listed by the Trust as having been killed while attempting to prevent, stop or solve a criminal act:

  • PC George Bertram Mussell KPM, 1913 (shot)
  • Sgt Andrew Barton, 1913 (shot)
  • PC George William Wheatley, 1957 (fell from roof while searching for a suspect)
  • PC Brian Armstrong, 1966 (stabbed)
  • PC Daniel Buckley, 1982 (fell through roof while pursuing a burglar)
  • PC Keith Blakelock, 1985 (killed during the Broadwater Farm riots while attempting to protect a fire crew)
  • PC Bernard Leslie Bull, 1991 (collapsed and died during an arrest)
  • Sgt William Forth, 1993 (stabbed)
  • PC Joseph Geoffrey Carroll, 2006 (the prisoner he was transporting caused the vehicle to crash, fatally injuring the officer)

On November 6, 2017, Constable John Davidson of the Abbotsford Police Department in British Columbia, Canada, was shot and killed while trying to arrest a suspect who had allegedly opened fire in the parking lot of a shopping centre. Davidson had served with the Northumbria Police from 1993 to 2005 before emigrating to join the Abbotsford Police.

See also

External links

Uses material from the Wikipedia article Northumbria Police, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.