Force crest of Dorset Police
|Formed||1 April 1974|
|Annual budget||£211.1m (2018-2019) |
|Operations jurisdiction||Dorset, England|
|Map of police area|
|Size||1,024 square miles (2,650 km2)|
|Legal jurisdiction||England & Wales|
|Overviewed by||Independent Office for Police Conduct/Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary|
|Constables||1,383 (of which 111 are special constables)|
|Police Community Support Officers||123|
|Police and Crime Commissioner responsible|
Dorset Police is the territorial police force responsible for policing the county of Dorset in the south-west of England, which includes the largely rural area covered by Dorset Council, and the urban conurbation and unitary authority of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.
Dorset Police covers a population of over 800,000, which swells considerably in the tourist season. As of 2021, the force is the 15th smallest of 48 UK police forces in terms of officer numbers, and the 24th smallest territorial police force in terms of geographic area.
Dorset County Constabulary was formed in 1855.
In 1965, Dorset County Constabulary had an establishment of 544 and an actual strength of 466. On 1 October 1967 it merged with Bournemouth Borough Police to form Dorset and Bournemouth Constabulary.
Dorset Police was formerly responsible to the Dorset Police Authority, which was replaced in 2012 by an elected Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner.
Organisation and Operations
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.
In the 2018-2019 financial year, Dorset Police:
- Received 104,028 emergency calls and 420,677 non-emergency calls
- Recorded 183,412 incidents, including 55,028 crimes
- Made 10,515 arrests
- Dealt with 5,832 missing persons incidents and 7,426 mental health incidents
Criminal Investigation Department
CID is based at Dorset's divisional headquarters in Bournemouth & Weymouth, 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 department is split into numerous sub-departments, which include but are not restricted to, Child Abuse Investigation Teams, Volume Crime Teams, Priority Crime Teams, Financial Investigation Units, Major Crimes Investigation Teams and Serious Sexual Offences.
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.
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.
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. As of 2011, they were working hard to 'crack-down' on imitation firearms. BMW X5s are the main vehicle used by this unit in black or dark blue.
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.
Air Operations Unit
Dorset Police formerly operated an MD 902 helicopter from its headquarters at Winfrith. In 2012, the National Police Air Service (NPAS) was created, and all police air support units in England and Wales were gradually transferred to it. The NPAS inherited 23 bases, including Winfrith, but this was eventually reduced to 14. A helicopter remained based at Winfrith until 26 September 2014, when it was moved to a new home at Bournemouth Airport. Although based in Dorset, the helicopter forms part of the NPAS south-west region of police forces – which includes Devon and Cornwall, Avon and Somerset, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, South Wales, Dyfed-Powy’s and Gwent.
The headquarters of Dorset Police is at Winfrith, roughly halfway between Weymouth and Poole. Police stations open to the public are located at Blandford, Bournemouth Central, Bridport, Gillingham, Poole, Sherborne, Swanage and Weymouth. The opening hours of some of these stations are, however, very limited.
There are two custody suites always open at Bournemouth Central and Weymouth Police station. Work was completed on Weymouth's Station in January 2002, which has 19 cells, with work completed on Bournemouth's in October 2010, with 37 cells. There is also a third custody suite at Poole Police Station which opened in December 2009 with 27 cells, however, due to financial costs, this is only opened when operationally necessary. 
In September 2017, the Christchurch neighbourhood policing team moved from the site on Barrack Road to the fire station on Fairmile, further advancing the relationship with Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service. All the response officers who cover the Christchurch area are now based in Ferndown.
Uniforms and equipment
Male 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 when on mobile patrol in vehicles, and a white peaked cap for traffic officers, both with a chequered Sillitoe tartan band. Female officers either wear a bowler hat or peaked cap, or a white bowler hat or peaked cap for traffic officers, also with Sillitoe tartan. PCSOs wear a peaked cap or bowler hat, but with a blue band.
When on duty officers wear black combat trousers and wicking T-shirts. 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. PCSOs wear a similar uniform, but with blue epaulettes rather than black. High Visibility Tac Vests are now issued to all officers, along with Body Armour, which they are required to wear when on operational duty. 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.
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 with their rank and collar numbers 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), Samsung Smartphones, rigid handcuffs, leg restraints, the ASP 21" collapsible baton and PAVA 2 Incapacitant Spray (in place of CS Gas issued to Metropolitan Police officers). Some officers use the Axon Taser, a non-lethal electroshock weapon used to incapacitate targets via shocks of 50,000 volts.
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 around 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 Tourings, Ford Focus STs, as well as newer Audis and Volvos. Dorset Police's Road Policing Unit also use BMW R1200Rt motorbikes. Firearms units in Dorset normally use BMW X5s in black or blue, but have been known to use other vehicles. Vehicles made by other manufacturers are part of the fleet as well.
Dorset Police stopped using the 'jam sandwich' police car markings between 2000 and 2005, and now use modern yellow and blue retro-reflective battenberg markings on all operational vehicles, as well as the force crest on the bonnet. Most of the non-operational fleet also feature the force crest and website links.There are also special liveries on Vauxhall Astra's for certain campaigns, such as the #Unacceptable campaign (against assaults on emergency service workers) and the #RemoveItLockIt campaign (against theft from motor vehicle crime).There are also designs for events such as a collection of poppies for Remembrance Day and stars and the LGBTQ+ flag for Pride.
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.
As of 2021, the force structure is as follows:
- Chief Constable - James Vaughan
- Deputy Chief Constable - Scott Chilton
- Assistant Chief Constable Sam de Reya
- T/Assistant Chief Officer Mark Callaghan
- Director of Legal, Reputation and Risk - Mike Stamp
- Police and Crime Commissioner - Martyn Underhill
- Head of Crime – Detective Chief Superintendent Ben Hargreaves
- Head of Operations – Chief Superintendent Matt Lawler
- Head of Territorial Policing – Temporary Chief Superintendent Caroline Naughton
- Head of Corporate Development – Chief Superintendent Steve Lyne
- ??–1962 : Ronald Berry Greenwood
- 1962–1980 : Arthur Hambleton
- 1995–1998 : D.W. Aldous
- 1999–2004: Jane Stichbury
- 2005–2012 : Martin Baker QPM
- 2012–2018 : Debbie Simpson QPM
- 2018– : James Vaughan QPM
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
|Name||Rank||Age||Force||Date of death||Circumstances|
|Thomas Bishop||Police Constable||39||Dorset Constabulary||21 September 1877||Fatally bludgeoned with stones by a drunken man he had warned.|
|Samuel Foster||Superintendent||51||Bournemouth Borough Police||6 August 1904||Collapsed and died while representing the force at the funeral of a colleague.|
|Sidney George Wood||Police Constable||27||Dorset Constabulary||26 April 1908||Died after crashing his bicycle on a steep hill searching for a thief|
|Thomas Biddlecombe||Police Constable||47||Dorset Constabulary||18 December 1916||Whilst patrolling Thornford Road, Sherborne, he took severely ill and was taken by ambulance to Yeatman Hospital where he died.|
|Wilfred Charles Viney||Police Constable||31||Dorset Constabulary||25 July 1930||Killed riding pillion in a motorcycle collision on plain clothes night patrol.|
|Sidney F. Loader||Police Constable||40||Dorset Constabulary||8 September 1938||Fatally injured in a collision with a car while on cycle patrol.|
|Alfred E. Head||Police Constable||46||Dorset Constabulary||19 October 1938||Fatally injured in a road collision cycling to court in bad weather.|
|Stanley Ivor Marsh||Police Constable||24||Dorset Constabulary||9 February 1939||Died as a result of injuries received in 1938 when he attempted to stop a car.|
|Walter Charles Billett||Reserve Police Constable||61||Dorset Constabulary||5 July 1940||Killed in a fall from his bicycle while reporting for duty in the blackout.|
|Ronald Mayne Roffey||Sergeant||37||Bournemouth Borough Police||22 August 1956||Drowned attempting to rescue his daughter from the sea in Jersey.|
|Cecil Robert Budden||Police Constable||27||Dorset Constabulary||19 May 1957||Fatally injured in a collision with a car while on motorcycle patrol.|
|Kenneth Frederick Innell||Inspector||44||Dorset Police||13 December 1982||Collapsed and died during an incident on duty at Poole Quay.|
|Sean Oxford||Special Constable||21||Dorset Police||7 May 1992||Collapsed and died during warm up exercises in preparation for self defence training.|
|Stephen Wilson||Police Constable||37||Dorset Police||16 May 1996||Fatally injured in a motorcycle collision while reporting for night duty.|
|Ian Leslie Toomer||Inspector||50||Dorset Police||20 April 1999||Killed in a road collision when his police car crashed in wet weather.|
|Robin Povall||Detective Constable||50||Dorset Police||7 March 2003||While cycling home from duty at Weymouth he was in a collision with a car that had cut across his path. He sustained serious injuries from which he died a few hours later in hospital.|
|Ian James Morton||Detective Constable||32||Dorset Police||26 October 2008||Killed in a road traffic collision whilst travelling to report for duty at Bournemouth, in the early morning, when his vehicle left the road and crashed into the wall of a bungalow at Highcliffe.|
|Jonathan Mark Hicken||Detective Constable||47||Dorset Police||6 October 2019||Collapsed and died while travelling to duty on the 6th October 2019.|
British Crime Survey
The British Crime Survey for 2010 found that 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 Dorset Police the eighth best performing force out of 43 in England and Wales, and first in forces similar to Dorset.
The performance figures from Dorset Police comparing April to December 2009 with the same period during 2008, showed a 9.9% drop in burglary, an 8.5 per cent drop in criminal damage, a 3.5 per cent fall in vehicle crime, a 3% drop in total violent crime, and a 17.8 per cent fall in the 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 there was a 2.8 per cent fall in total recorded crime.
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.
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary
In 2010, 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.
In 2006, a Dorset Police officer's use of CS gas against a Wareham gardener left him with permanent scarring. The gas canister was held inches from the man's face for a prolonged period of time. The man's family alleged that he was prevented from seeking medical care in the immediate aftermath of the incident. It was later reported that the man pleaded guilty to inteferring with the arrest of another individual when he was sprayed with the incapicitant and was sentenced to two weeks in prison. This sentence was served concurrently with a 3 month prison sentence for three assault by beating offences which the man also admitted and was on bail for at the time of the CS incapacitant incident.
In the same year, a man who had previously been sprayed with CS gas by Dorset Police was arrested and forcibly stripped in his own home by Dorset Police officers. 
In 2011, a Slovakian care worker was unlawfully detained and strip-searched in a Dorset Police station in Bournemouth.  In a later settlement, Dorset Police admitted liability, and paid out damages of £4,750.
Alliances and merger proposals
In 2006 the Home Office announced plans to reduce the number of police forces in the UK from 42 to 24. This would have seen Dorset Police merge with Gloucestershire Constabulary, Devon and Cornwall Police, Avon and Somerset Constabulary and Wiltshire Police. The plans were publicly criticised by all the involved forces, stating that it would lead to poor quality service and a reduction in local policing. The merger plans were abandoned in August 2006 by the then Home Secretary, John Reid.
Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police announced in December 2013 that their Chief Constables and PCCs were exploring opportunities for greater collaboration; to save costs without reducing service, and share assets, resources, expertise and best practice. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) defines a strategic alliance as: "An agreement between two or more forces to pursue a set of agreed objectives, while retaining separate identities." A strategic alliance was agreed to in March 2015, covering over 30 administrative and operational business areas (almost 40% of the total activity of the two forces). These business areas include admin services, finance, human resources, fleet services and ICT, together with some specialist policing teams. The first joint teams became operational in April 2016. In each business area, there is a single team and management structure made up from people from both organisations, to work on behalf of both forces. Any costs and savings are shared in proportion to the size of each force. So far[when?] the strategic alliance project is on track to achieve the initial target of £12m of combined annual savings by 2018.
In September 2017, it was announced that Dorset Police and Devon and Cornwall Police were looking at merging to form a single force. This was cancelled in October 2018 when the PCC for Devon and Cornwall was unwilling to submit the merger plans to the home officer for consideration.
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.
In popular culture
- The 2006 book Bobbies on the Beat: 150 Years of the Dorset Police by Melvin Hann presents the history of the Dorset Police Force to mark the 150th anniversary.
- The 2018 book Operation Countryman: The Flawed Enquiry into London Police Corruption by former Metropolitan Police officer Kirby Dick, discusses Operation Countryman, an investigation into police corruption in London in the late 1970s, on which then Home Secretary, Merlyn Rees, appointed Dorset Police to investigate. The investigation was led by then Dorset Police Chief Constable, Arthur Hambleton, to which Dick describes in his book as 'shambolic'.
- The 2020 book Investigating the Almost Perfect Murders: The Case of Russell Causley and Other Crimes by former Dorset Police Chief Superintendent, Anthony Nott details some of the murder investigations he was involved in. These include the disappearance and suspected murder of Monica Taylor and Carole Packman, as well as other murders within Bournemouth. The book provides an insight into 'the methodical and transparent way in which the police investigate complicated crimes from riots to the almost perfect murders.'
- In 2009, series 8, episode 7 of crime documentary Real Crime, narrated by Mark Austin, recounted 'Operation Hornbill', the 2000-2001 Dorset Police operation, searching for the 'Tesco Bomber'. Bournemouth man Robert Edward Dyer used the pseudonym 'Sally' to demand money from the grocery store chain Tesco. He demanded that Tesco give away Clubcards, modified for use in cash machines, in the Bournemouth Daily Echo with the threat and use of improvised explosive devices. Dyer was charged and, in May 2001, pleaded guilty on nine counts of blackmail, as well as a sole count of common assault against Jean Evans, the woman who opened the letter bomb. On 12 June 2001, he was sentenced to 16 years' imprisonment by a judge at Dorchester Crown Court. The sentence was reduced to 12 years imprisonment on appeal and Dyer was released from prison in 2007.
- In 2013, series 19, episode 5 of the BBC 2 motoring show Top Gear showed Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond testing a car they'd built 'especially for old people', a modified Fiat Multipla around Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole. The eastbound slip road of the A35 Blandford/Upton bypass was cordoned off to allow the crew to film a scene where the car blew up, a safety feature Clarkson had designed to stop elderly motorists driving the wrong way on dual carriageways and motorways. A spokesman for Dorset Police said officers assisted Dorset County Council with a rolling roadblock, under Section 16A of the Road Traffic Regulation (Special Event) Act 1994. The episode aired on 24 February 2013.
- In July and August 2016, series 1 of The Investigator: A British Crime Story, produced by Simon Cowell and presented by former police officer and journalist Mark Williams-Thomas, focused on the murder of Carole Packman, who disappeared from her Bournemouth home in 1985. Her ex-husband, Russell Causley was convicted of her murder. Causley was given a life sentence with a minimum term of 16 years. He had been eligible for parole since 2012. Although refusing to reveal the whereabouts of his wife's body, he was freed from prison in October 2020, despite a last-ditch appeal to keep him behind bars. As of 2021, the series is available internationally on Netflix.
- In March 2017, an episode of The Kyle Files, presented by Jeremy Kyle, featured the No Excuse and Traffic unit. The 30-minute documentary featured Kyle joining the units on patrol, focusing on the dangers at the wheel, such as drink and drug driving, mobile phone use, speeding and Operation Dragoon, Dorset Police's approach to tackling the most dangerous road users.The episode was filmed in October 2016 and aired on ITV on 6 March 2017.
- In October 2017, Gordon Ramsay's documentary Gordon Ramsay on Cocaine, featured Ramsay joining the Traffic Unit on patrol in Bournemouth, for a special operation to tackle the issue of drug driving. The episode was filmed in April 2017 and the two-part programme aired on ITV on 19 October and 26 October 2017.
- In March 2018, an edition of the BBC Three crime documentary Unsolved entitled "The Man With No Alibi" featured reporter Bronagh Munro piecing together the events of a fatal stabbing in Bournemouth. In the early hours of 12 July 2002, South Korean student Jong Oki Shin was stabbed to death in the Charminster area of Bournemouth. In 2005, Omar Benguit was convicted of the murder, after three trials. However, in the documentary, him and his family protest his innocence. Bronagh examined the evidence that convicted Benguit, investigating the links between convicted serial killer Danilo Restivo, who murdered 16-year-old Elisa Clapps in his native hometown of Potenza, Italy on 12 September 1993 and mother of two Helen Barnett on 12 November 2002, just three streets away. Benguits lawyer said several lines of circumstantial evidence pointed to Restivo. One of these was the unusual coincidence that Restivo had also murdered his victims on the 12th day of the month.
- In April 2018, series 2 episode 10 of Britain's Most Evil Killers, narrated by Fred Dinenage, profiled the Italian killer Danilo Restivo, jailed for 40 years for murdering and mutilating his Bournemouth neighbour, Heather Barnett, in 2002.
- The first gang member involved with The Great Train Robbery in 1963 to be caught was Roger Cordrey. He was with his friend, William Boal who was helping him lie low in return for the payment of old debts. They were living in a rented, fully furnished flat above a florist's shop in Wimborne Road, Moordown, Bournemouth. Bournemouth Police were tipped off by Ethel Clark, who unfortunately for Boal and Cordrey was the widow of a former police officer, when Boal and Cordrey paid rent for a garage in Tweedale Road, off Castle Lane West, Bournemouth, three months in advance, all in used ten-shilling notes. Boal, who was not involved in the robbery, was sentenced to 24 years and died in prison in 1970. Police later acknowledged that he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice.
- In 2017, Dorset Police launched the 'Dorset Police People' series on their official YouTube channel. Between March 2017 and April 2018, officers and staff from various teams were interviewed about their role and career with Dorset Police. These included interviews with the officers from the Dog Unit, Economic Crime Unit and Rural Crime Team, as well as staff from Forensic Collision Investigators, Recruitment and Counter Services.
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- Operation Hornbill - an investigation into The Tesco bomb campaign, one of the largest and most secretive operations ever undertaken by Dorset Police
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