York Minster Police have been policing the cathedral since 1275.
Some of the officers of York Minster Police, including officer John Key standing outside the Minster.
York Minster Police are a non-Home Office force whose officers are not sworn in as constables. They cover York’s cathedral as well as a number of smaller buildings and grounds. They have never had any vehicles or cycles due to the small geographic area they cover. They have an office, but do not have facilities for detaining arrested suspects. Any arrested persons are handed over to the local Home Office force, North Yorkshire Police. The county force will also investigate any serious crime as the Minster force do not carry out investigative work.
The force consists of 10 officers (2008) including one inspector who work shifts to provide 24 hour a day cover. They set their own training schedules which include using truncheons, handcuffs and body armour. As recently as the 1980s officers brought their own dogs to work and used them in their duties.
Minster Police officers liaise with the North Yorkshire Police officers during an evacuation due to a suspect package.
York Minster Police can trace their history right back to 1275. In this year King Edward appointed a constable to keep order at the Minster. By 1285 everything was in place for the Minster Police, including their own court and prison. There are occasional mentions of the force in the history books through the centuries, but the history is better documented from the 1900s onwards. During World War I the officers helped with fire protection when grenades were being thrown from aircraft. By World War II they were trained in fire prevention by the local fire service.
The York Minster Police was part of the Home Office from the time when Robert Peel introduced the modern police service to the UK. At some point between the world wars they moved to being a non-Home Office force. This saved this very small force as they would almost certainly have been merged with the county force.
The Force’s claim to fame is that they are the forerunners of the modern police service. Sir Robert Peel visited the Minster on a number of occasions and monitored the workings of the force prior to forming the Metropolitan Police.
Another interesting fact is that it was a York Minster Police officer on his first shift who discovered the fire that led to major damage to the Minster in 1984.
The Minster Police direct the fire service to flooding at the historic building. The police officers silence the fire alarm system during religious services and the fire brigade, if called, are instructed to arrive quietly.
In this 4-picture scene we can see a RAF Sea King rescue helicopter from RAF Leconfield involved in an emergency on top of York Minster. A man fell ill at the highest point of the tower and could not be taken down the steep spiral staircases. The winchman is lowered first and liaises with the ambulance service while the Minster Police keep the area sterile. After the aircraft has circled for a few minutes, a paramedic in bright yellow coat winched up and then finally the casualty on a stretcher with winchman alongside.
Two ceremonial truncheons hang outside the police office.
Some of the minster constables from years gone by.
A few more images of the 2016 uniform.
During times of high demand, other members of the Minster staff are used for policing duties.