For the first time in nearly 80 years, York Minster’s tiny police force will soon have the power to arrest wrongdoers.
Although it is a private police force, Minster’s eight-strong squad of officers has undergone specialist training and will soon be able to say, “You’re nicked” – within the cathedral and its precincts.
The new powers have been formally recognised in a memorandum of understanding signed by the Dean of York and Superintendent Adam Thompson on behalf of the Chapter of York and the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police.
Oldest cops in the land
Established in the 13th century, the Minster Police constabulary is thought to be the oldest continuing police service in the country.
It is a forerunner of the modern police force established by Sir Robert Peel in 1829. The Minster’s cathedral constables were sworn in as constables until the 1930s, when they ceased to be attested.
Head of security Mark Sutcliffe said:
We have worked closely alongside North Yorkshire Police for many years to keep the Minster and the people who visit it from around the world safe.
The memorandum of understanding is a formal agreement between the cathedral and North Yorkshire Police over policing responsibilities within the Minster and its precinct.
This recognises that security provision inside the Minster and its precinct remain the responsibility of cathedral constables, but North Yorkshire Police will be responsible for investigating all crime.
Any arrested people will be handed over to the regular police for transport and processing and the force will be responsible for the submission of prosecution files.
The powers will formally come into effect when the eight cathedral constables and head of security are sworn in at a ceremony to be held at York Minster in the spring.
They will join officers from Canterbury, Liverpool and Chester who have the same powers in their respective cathedral and precincts.