Protecting places and people – the story of Liverpool’s own Port Police

12 March 2020

Ports are home to vast amounts of precious cargo and valuable infrastructure, not to mention being international gateways for the movement of goods and people.

Security and safety are therefore paramount, which is why the Mersey cluster of Peel Ports has its own police force safeguarding all its facilities. Here Chief Officer Martin Humphreys explains the role that the force plays.

Ports don’t sleep and neither does our operation. We work 24/7, policing across the port estate providing a high visibility deterrent and crime prevention/reduction capability.

It’s a bit cliché but each day really is different. Ports are more diverse environments than many people might expect. One day we might be focussing on checking the driving hours of hauliers calling at the port to help ensure our roads are safe. The next we might be involved in the arrest and prosecution of serious criminals, as we did only last year, when a man was sentenced to life in prison for offences committed outside the port.

We’re often asked what the main difference is between our officers and those who police outside of the port. All port police officers hold the Office of Constable and therefore have the same powers as police officers outside the port but we are responsible for policing within designated areas around Liverpool, Sefton, Birkenhead, Ellesmere Port, Eastham Dock Estates and the Manchester Ship Canal.

We were formed in 1975 under a specific piece of legislation and broadly speaking, we have full policing powers within our designated area and any place within 1 mile of it. Additional legislation now allows us to police anywhere in England and Wales providing we are working on our port related business.

Merseyside Police also has authority within the port area. We have a formal agreement with them about how we work together, such as sharing facilities, lead roles on certain types of crime and communication.

Not surprisingly, our rank structure is smaller than used in most UK police forces. We have myself as Chief Officer, my deputy, Inspector Stephen Christian and two uniform Sergeants. We each have more than 30 years’ diverse policing experience. Our broader team of constables are all experienced officers with the specialist skills and training required to work at the port.

We also work closely with the Liverpool & Manchester Port Security Authority (PSA) which operates from the Port of Liverpool. It is the largest in the UK, supporting 47 facilities that are involved in international shipping and have legislative security requirements. The PSA provides security training to companies across the port and have provided security awareness courses to 450+ port employees over the last five years.

The work we do across the Mersey cluster is diverse and thanks to the broad range of talented staff we have working here, each day is as enjoyable and as challenging as the next.