Dorset Police

Dorset Police

Dorset Police Crest
Agency overview
Formed 1 April, 1974
Preceding agencies
  • Dorset County Constabulary
  • Bournemouth Borough Police
  • Dorset and Bournemouth Constabulary
Employees 2,681[1]
Volunteers 295[1]
Annual budget £107.8 million[1]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* Police area of Dorset in the country of England, UK
Map of police area
Size 1,024 square miles (2,650 km2)
Population 710,500
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 Winfrith
Constables 1,301 (of which 209 are special constables)[2]
Police Community Support Officers 140[2]
Police and Crime Commissioner responsible Martyn Underhill, (I)
Agency executive Debbie Simpson, Chief Constable
Divisions 2
Headquarters Winfrith
Stations 24
Cars Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, BMW 5 and X5 series are the main cars
Helicopters 1 MD 902
Dogs 30
Person James Vaughan, for Deputy Chief Constable
* Police area agency: Prescribed geographic area in the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

Dorset Police is the territorial police force responsible for policing the English county of Dorset in the south-west of England.


Dorset County Constabulary was formed in 1855. On 1 October 1967 it merged with Bournemouth Borough Police to form Dorset and Bournemouth Constabulary. On 1 April 1974 this force took over some areas (mainly Christchurch and its hinterland) from Hampshire Constabulary and acquired its present name.

In 1965, Dorset County Constabulary had an establishment of 544 and an actual strength of 466.[3]


51% of Dorset's 687,000 Population reside in 5% of the area, which is the conurbations of Poole and Bournemouth. Within the tourist season this number rises by another 300,000.

As of April 2008, the force was divided into two Divisions: Bournemouth and Poole (sometimes known as the Conurbation) Division and Dorset County Division (consisting of the rest of Dorset, stretching from Lyme Regis in the west, to Gillingham in the north and Walkford in the east of the county). This restructuring is in line with force policy of recreating a "Neighbourhood-led police force" and matches up with the local council's wards, to monitor local statistics.

Dorset Police often work with other organisations to assist in emergencies, such as Dorset Search and Rescue who assist in the search and recovery of missing persons.

The Chief Constable is Debbie Simpson.


In a typical day Dorset Police face (based on December 2006 figures):


Criminal Investigation Department

CID is based at Dorset's headquarters and provides advice to all policing units on crime-related matters and maintaining a corporate approach to reducing crime, as well as providing specialist and investigative roles. The despartment is split into six sub-departments including, Child Protection Investigation, Scientific Support, Intelligence, Fraud Squad, Special Squad and HOLMES.[4]

Roads Policing Unit

Dorset Police is responsible for policing sections of 14 'A' roads including A338, A35, A350, A354 and A37. There are no motorways located within Dorset.

Dorset Police have a total of ~450 vehicles, from 20 different manufacturers, and drive a total of 7.5 million miles a year.[5][6]

Ports Policing Unit

The Dorset Police Ports Policing Unit is responsible for policing all designated and non-designated ports in Dorset, making sure that legislation is followed, particularly the Terrorism Act 2000. It also obtains any intelligence on smuggling and contraband. Ports in Dorset include Poole Harbour, Swanage Harbour, Portland Harbour, Weymouth Harbour, Christchurch Harbour and Bournemouth Airport.

Marine Policing Unit

Dorset Police' Marine Unit is responsible for policing the 89 miles of Dorset's coastline and up to 12 miles out to sea. The area is one the busiest coastal areas in the UK, including two of the busiest ports, numerous shipping lanes, thousands of private moorings, the RNLI's busiest callout area and a training centre for the Royal Marines.[7]

Armed Response Unit

Dorset Police's Armed Response Group is a 24/7 sub-department of the Operations department that responds to major and serious crimes where firearms are involved. The unit responds to incidents with the capability of firearms and Taser deployment. They are currently working hard to 'crack-down' on imitation firearms. BMW X5s are the main vehicle used by this unit in black or dark blue.[8][9]

Dog Section

Dorset Police has had a Dog Section since 1953, the unit is based in Eastern Division HQ in Ferndown. The unit comprises 1 Inspector, 2 Sergeants and 18 Constables and almost 30 dogs, including German Shepherds, Labradors and English Springer Spaniels.[10]

Air Operations Unit

On 29 June 2012 The Police (Collaboration: Specified Function) Order 2012 came into effect.[11] This order created the NPAS (National Police Air Service) which became operational 1 October 2012.[12]

Dorset Police Headquarters, Winfrith, was home to the MD 902 helicopter.[13] until September the 26th 2014 when it was moved to Bournemouth international airport in Dorset on a permanent basis.


The headquarters of Dorset Police is at Winfrith and has 21 stations at Blandford, Boscombe, Bournemouth Central, Bridport, Christchurch, Dorchester, Ferndown, Gillingham, Lyme Regis (currently closed[14]), Poole, Portland, Shaftesbury, Sherborne, Swanage, Verwood, Wareham, Weymouth Wimborne and Winton.

Winfrith is also home to the Dog Section and is where new officers are trained.



Dorset Police officers wear the traditional custodian helmet in the comb style with a Brunswick star that reads 'Dorset Police' for foot patrol, a peaked cap for when on mobile patrol in vehicles, and a white peaked cap for traffic officers. Female officers wear a bowler hat, or a white bowler hat for traffic officers.


When on duty officers wear black wicking T-shirts, and black combat trousers. Dorset Police no longer use the traditional police jumper, having favoured the black fleece with police written on the chest and back. Dorset Police do not have Brunswick stars on their epaulettes, just the rank and collar number (or just collar number for constables). Regular Officers and Special Constables wear the same uniform including black combat trousers, black wicking tops and black stab vests. High Visibility Tac Vests are now issued to all officers, along with Body Armour. The idea of these utility vests are to spread the weight of the equipment carried by officers across the torso rather than place strain on the waist when using a standard utility vest.

Formal dress comprises an open-necked tunic, with white shirt/blouse and tie/cravat. Constables and Sergeants wear custodian helmet's and collar numbers on their epaulettes, all higher-ranked officers wear peaked caps and their rank on their epaulettes. The No.1 uniform is accompanied by black boots or shoes and occasionally white gloves, or brown gloves for the rank of Inspector and above.


Dorset Police use TETRA digital radios (Motorola), PDAs and BlackBerrys, rigid handcuffs, the ASP 21" collapsible baton and PAVA 2 Incapacitant Spray (in place of CS Gas issued to Metropolitan Police officers).

As of early 2015, in an effort to increase efficiency, reduce bureaucracy, and increase officer visibility, officers now have access to Windows Tablet PCs with mobile data cards to allow them to complete paperwork, and undertake proactive work using tools such as ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) whilst out of the station.


Dorset Police have a total of 450 vehicles, and drive a total of 7.5 million miles a year. The force mainly use a combination of Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra Estate cars as divisional units. Most rural areas have 4x4 capability in the form of Land Rover Freelander 2s or Skoda Yetis. Roads policing units in Dorset are a combination of BMW 530Ds, Ford Focus STs, as well as newer Audis and Volvos.

Dorset Police also use many other makes of vehicles from several different car manufacturers for the diverse categories of response vehicles required by the modern Police Officer.


Dorset Police use the modern yellow and blue retro-reflective battenberg markings all over all operational vehicles, as well as the Dorset Police crest on the bonnet.

Most of the non-operational fleet also feature the force crest and website links.

Dorset Police stopped using the 'jam sandwich' police car markings between 2000 and 2005 when battenburg markings came into favour


Between 1855 and 1967 Dorset Police used the name Dorset County Constabulary, and served alongside Bournemouth Borough Police until the two forces merged in 1967, and from then was known as Dorset and Bournemouth Constabulary. In 1974 the force expanded its borders and therefore changed its name again, this time dropping the phrase 'constabulary' in favour of its current name Dorset Police.

Strength and Recruitment

Dorset Police employs over 2,600 people: 1301Constables and 140PCSO's. Dorset Police also has 209Special Constables and an unknown number of Police Support Volunteers.

Due to budget cuts Dorset Police is not currently looking to recruit for any positions unless they are urgent. However positions for voluntary roles are available.

Dorset Police are currently looking to increase the number of Special Constables "considerably" between the 2013-2017 period.[15]

Training for new recruits in Dorset is held at the Headquarters in Winfrith. For Police Constables it consists of eight months' training and a two-year probationary period. For PCSOs it consists of 18 weeks' training and a 15-week probationary period. For Special Constables it consists of a similar but shorter programme of training during weeknights and weekends, accompanied by a two-year probationary period or less, dependent on the hours they can commit a month.

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

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 Police Memorial Trust since its establishment in 1984 has erected over 38 memorials to some of those officers.

Since 1877 the following officers of Dorset Police were killed while attempting to prevent or stop a crime in progress:[16]


British Crime Survey

The British Crime Survey for 2010 found that Dorset Police there was an overall fall in crime in Dorset by 2.5%, and the largest fall in crime was robbery which fell by 20%, making it the best eighth best performing force out of 43 in England and Wales, and first in forces similar to Dorset.[18]

The latest performance figures from Dorset Police comparing April to December 2009 with the same period during 2008 – are a 9.9% drop in burglary, 8.5 per cent drop in criminal damage, a 3.5 per cent fall in vehicle crime, a 3% drop in total violent crime, a 17.8 per cent fall in most serious violent crime, Criminal damage fell by 5.8%, violence against the person without injury by 9.3%, violence against the person by 5.2%, drug offences by 5.1% and a 2.8 per cent fall in total recorded crime.[19]

According to the British Crime Survey, 63.8 per cent of people think Dorset Police deals with local concerns, making Dorset the best performing force in England and Wales for that issue.

Some 9.9% of people say there is a high level of perceived anti-social behaviour, making Dorset the eighth best performing force in England and Wales – and the top performing force among its family of five most similar forces. Some 17.6% of people said there was a big problem with drugs while 18.8 per cent of people in Dorset said there was a big problem with drunk and rowdy behaviour. 51.6% of people in Dorset agreed that the police and local councils were dealing with issues, making Dorset the twelfth best performing force in England and Wales.[20][21]

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary graded Dorset Police overall as 'fair' on local crime and policing, protection from serious harm, confidence and satisfaction.

In detail they were graded as 'fair' at Neighbourhood Policing, neighbourhood presence and solving crime. They were rated as 'good' at reducing crime.

They were graded 'excellent' at suppressing gun crime, suppressing knife crime, comparative satisfaction of the BME community, confidence in the police and proportion of police cost met by council.

They were scored 'poor' and 'stable' on reducing road death and injury.[22]

Dorset Police Authority

Dorset Police Authority no longer exists - in November 2012, Mr M. Underhill won the election, becoming Dorset's first ever Police & Crime Commissioner.

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.[23] The plans were abandoned later that year due to lack of funding for the mergers, however the idea has resurfaced many times.

The proposed idea would have seen Dorset Police merge with Gloucestershire Constabulary, Devon and Cornwall Police, Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Wiltshire 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.[24]

Other Activities

Dorset Emergency Services Partnership Initiative

Dorset Emergency Services Partnership Initiative is a project that ensures collaboration between emergency services in Dorset. This has seen the provision of a new fire station in Poole and Dorchester, new fire service headquarters in Poundbury and a joint area command for Dorset Police with Dorset Fire and Rescue Service on the Wimborne Road site.[25]

Dorset Police Male Voice Choir

The Dorset Police Male Voice Choir was founded on 4 July 1995 as independent charity that today has 60 members, that perform regularly throughout Dorset. The choir has performed throughout England and also France, Guernsey, Ireland and the USA. The choir has so far raised over £250,000 for charity.[26]

See also


  1. 1 2 3
  2. 1 2 "Tables for 'Police workforce, England and Wales, 31 March 2013". HM Government. Office for National Statistics. 31 March 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  3. The Thin Blue Line, Police Council for Great Britain Staff Side Claim for Undermanning Supplements, 1965
  4. "CID". Dorset Police. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  5. "Transport Department". Dorset Police. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  6. "Traffic Department". Dorset Police. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  7. "Marine Section". Dorset Police. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  8. "Boy, six, sparks new guns fear". BBC News. 3 July 2001. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  9. "Tactical Firearms Unit". Dorset Police. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  10. "Dog Section". Dorset Police. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  11. "NPAS". West Yorkshire Police. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  12. "New police air service takes off". BBC. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  13. "Dorset police defend their helicopter". Daily Echo. 16 February 2011. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  14. "Dorset Police - Police Stations". Dorset Police. 19 March 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  17. The incident occurred in Bere Regis following the Woodbury Hill Fair. Bere Regis Murders. Bere Regis village website history section. 2004. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  18. "Dorset crime figures down". Western Gazette. 29 January 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  19. "Dorset police statistics over Christmas and New Year - crime falls". Weymouth People. 12 January 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  20. "Total crime in Dorset is down - Along with violent, sexual, robbery, criminal damage and drug offences". Dorset Police. 21 January 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  21. "Recorded crime in Weymouth". Dorset Echo. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  22. "Report Card". Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary. 13 March 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  23. "Police forces 'to be cut to 24'". BBC News. 20 March 2006. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  24. "Concerns over police merger plans". Salisbury Journal. 19 February 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  25. "Dorset Emergency Services Partnership Initiative". Dorset Fire and Rescue Service. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
  26. "About the Choir". Dorset Police Male Voice Choir. Retrieved 3 April 2011.
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