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The Work of the Police in Great Britain


1. The essential responsibility of the central government for the preservation of law and order throughout Great Britain is reflected in the police powers granted by Parliament to the Home Secretary* in England and Wales and to the Secretary of the State* for Scotland in Scotland.

2. The function of these Ministers is involved in administration and operation of the police force. The Ministers are also empowered to make regulations as to the conditions of service in police forces and to police discipline.

3. All regular police forces have a uniform department which deals with the prevention of crime and the protection of life and property, and a criminal investigation department, primarily responsible for the detection of crime and bringing offenders to justice. Most forces have additional departments and branches for dealing with special aspects of police work.

4. Most members of the police force are officers in uniform (the majority on patrol) because the visible presence of a constable is an important check on crime and disorder and because the police officer must be immediately accessible to the public to give effective help.

5. In most countries the police are known to carry guns. In Britain, policemen do not, as a rule, carry firearms in their day-to-day work, though certain specialist units are trained to do so and can be called upon to help the regular police force in situations, such as terrorist incidents, armed robberies, etc. The only policemen who routinely carry weapons are those who guard politicians and diplomats, or special officers who patrol airports. In Northern Ireland the police are armed because of the emergency situation there.

6. All members of the police must have a certain level of academic qualifications and undergo a period of intensive training. Like in the army, there are a number of ranks: after the Chief Constable comes the Assistant Chief Constable, Chief Superintendent, Chief Inspector, Superintendent, Inspector, Sergeant and Constable. The police are helped by a number of Special Constables. They are known to be members of the public who work for the police voluntary for a few hours a week. In Northern Ireland there is a part-time and full-time paid reserve.

7. Britain has no national police force, although police policy is governed by the central Government’s Home Office*. There is a separate police force for each of 52 areas into which the country is divided (43 in England and Wales, 8 in Scotland and 1 in Northern Ireland). The strength of the regular police in Britain is over 150,000. Women are reported to make up about 10 per cent of the police force. It is a committee of local county councilors and magistrates that is a police authority* of each of 52 police forces. Each police force has its own Criminal Investigation Department (CID). Members of CIDs are detectives, and they do not wear uniforms. The other uniformed people in British towns are traffic wardens (of whom there are over 4,700 in England and Wales and about 540 in Scotland). Their job is to make sure that drivers comply with the parking regulations. They have no other powers. It is the police who are responsible for controlling offences like speeding, careless driving and drunken driving. Wardens are under control of chief constable.

8. The duties of the police are varied, ranging from assisting at accidents to safeguarding public order and dealing with lost property. One of their main functions is, of course, apprehending criminals and would-be criminals. Constables in rural districts have the same basic responsibilities as their colleagues in towns and cities, although their day-to-day work is likely to be of a different kind.




the Home Secretary – министр внутренних дел Англии и Уэльса
the Secretary of the State – министр внутренних дел Шотландии
Superintendent   – старший полицейский офицер (следующий чин после инспектора)
the Home Office – Министерство внутренних дел
a police authority – орган местной полиции


Reading for General Understanding


Ex. 32. Look through Text A and do the following tasks.


Task 1. Decide which titles also fit the text.


1. The British police. 2. Police ranks. 3. The duties of the police in the UK. 4. The history of the police in Great Britain. 5. The British police and their missions. 6. The structure of the British police.


Task 2. Arrange the following sentences according to the logic of the text.


1. All regular police forces have a uniform department, and a criminal investigation department.

2. The police responsibilities are various.

3. Parliament grants the police powers for the preservation of law and order throughout the country.

4. Most of the police force’s officers wear uniforms.

5. There are 52 police forces in Britain.

6. The job of the certain Ministers is to administrate and operate the police force.

7. There are different ranks of the police members having a certain level of academic qualifications.

8. As a rule, in Great Britain, policemen do not carry firearms in their everyday work.

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