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Avon and Somerset Constabulary
Agency overview
Formed 1974
Preceding agencies
Annual budget £260 million[1] (2008-9)
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* Police area of Avon & Somerset in the country of England, United Kingdom
Map of Avon and Somerset Constabulary's jurisdiction.
Population 1.5 million
Legal jurisdiction England & Wales
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Portishead
Police constables 3,398
Agency executive Colin Port, Chief Constable
Divisions 6
Stations 39
Patrol cars 660
Official website
* Police area agency: Prescribed geographic area in the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

Avon & Somerset Constabulary is the territorial police force in England responsible for policing the non-metropolitan county of Somerset and the unitary authorities of South Gloucestershire, Bristol, North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset; before 1996 these districts formed the now-defunct county of Avon, hence the force's name. The force, providing service for 1.5 million people, it is about the 6th highest force in England.[2] The Chief Constable since January 2005 has been Colin Port, and the force has around 3,400 officers and 350 special constables.



Special Constables and regular officers of the Avon and Somerset Constabulary at the 125th anniversary of the Special Constabulary in Taunton.

The first police force in the entire of England was formed in Covent Garden by Somerset born novelist Henry Fielding, in 1748. In 1835, Bristol and Bath became the first to create their own police forces in the county itself, after that year's Municipal Corporations Act. The original Bristol constabulary had 232 officers issued with a top hat, blue coat and white trousers.[2] this constabulary began certain practices that were eventually adopted country-wide, including recruiting female officers (with 13 on patrol by 1918[2]) and photographing prisoners. Bridgwater and Chard followed with their own constabularies in 1839, with all forces being merged into the Somerset Constabulary in 1940.

The force as it is today was created on 1 April 1974, the same day as Avon, from a merger of the Bristol City Police, the Somerset and Bath Constabulary, and the Staple Hill division of Gloucestershire Constabulary. It was the only force to provide a mounted escort for the Queen during her Royal Jubilee tour of Bristol in 1977.[2]



Race and sex discrimination in recruitment

In 2006 the force admitted it had contravened the Sex Discrimination and Race Relations Act when it deselected 186 white male candidates from its recruitment process solely because of their gender and sex. Ralph Welsman, one of those discriminated against, sued the constabulary for their breach of employment laws and he received compensation in an out of court settlement. The policy was condemned by both the Police Federation and Commission for Racial Equality and it has now been abandoned.[3]

Headquarters and stations

The headquarters of the force is currently Portishead in North Somerset, close to the B3124, it was chosen as the site for the new HQ when the Bristol Constabulary's Bridewell Headquarters was deemed to be too small to continue serving as the Force's HQ. The Portishead complex cost £31 million to construct and was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 2 June 1995.[2]

Avon and Somerset Police use a total of 41 police stations.

Bath and North East Somerset


North Somerset

Somerset East

Somerset West

South Gloucestershire

See also


External links


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