Police Federation

FOI 00247 - Office of Constable sworn oath


Received:23 February 2021

Please can you tell me if every Police Officer across England and Wales holds the Office of Constable? That is, has every police officer, sworn the following oath?

"I do solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that I will well and truly service the Queen in the office of constable, with fairness, integrity, diligence and impartiality, upholding fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all people; and that I will, to the best of my power, cause the peace to be kept and preserved and prevent all offences against people and property; and that while I continue to hold the said office I will to the best of my skill and knowledge discharge all the duties thereof faithfully according to law"

If there is a variation of this oath, for say officers who do not hold the office of constable, and may be employees of a company carrying out police officer duties, what is that oath?

Do police forces, in any instant, use "hired help" such as security firms or employees of limited liability companies, and allow them dress in police uniforms and enforce the law? What safeguards and protocols are in place to protect the public ifso?

What does it mean, to be policed by consent, I quote from the above referenced document:  "The office of constable is fundamental to our system of politically independent policing by consent".

In addition, can police officers holding the office of constable, and/or any other police officer/employee potentially impersonating a police constable, enforce legislation, acts and statutes?


Responded:16 March 2021

The Police Federation of England and Wales can confirm that every police officer, whatever rank, holds the Office of Constable.  The Office of Constable is not a rank; it relates to the independence of the police officer; they are not employees, but servants of the Crown.  All police officers swear allegiance to the Crown through the Oath that they take at their attestation ceremony.  PFEW are unaware of any other variation of the oath.

Some police forces do have employees (police staff) or external agencies assisting with some elements of policing.  For example, in custody suites as gaolers.  Some also have limited ‘police’ powers – for example, to detain someone in certain settings.  Any decision on uniform or safeguards and protocols in relation to those individuals are made by the Force.

Policing by consent means that the police in this country police with the consent of the public.  It relates to the Peelian Principles, established when Sir Robert Peel set up the police service in London in 1829 – the core one being, the people are the police and the police are the people.  Unlike in other countries where policing is more paramilitary and to oversee political will.  Police officers in this country are accountable for their own actions or inactions.

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