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Case Studies

Minster Police MoU

A small but ancient police force – the Cathedral Constables of York Minster’s Minster Police – will soon hold the same powers as regular police constables, within the cathedral’s precinct. The private police force recently went through specialist training and will soon be attested giving them the power of arrest within the cathedral and its boundaries. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was formally signed by the Dean of York, on behalf of the Chapter of York; and Supt Adam Thompson for the North Yorkshire Police Chief Constable.

Established in the 13th century, the Minster Police constabulary is thought to be the oldest continuing police service in the country and a forerunner of the modern police as set up 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.

Mark Sutcliffe, Head of Security, himself a former police officer, said: “York Minster is one of only seven cathedrals in the world to maintain its own police force, which has played an important role in the rich history of the Minster for hundreds of years. 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 acts as a formal agreement between the cathedral and North Yorkshire Police around operational policing responsibilities within the Minster and its precinct and the new training and attestation ensures our Cathedral Constables have the professional skills and powers necessary to execute their duties.”

The memorandum sets out that although security provision inside the Minster (pictured) and its precinct remain the responsibility of Cathedral Constables, North Yorkshire Police will be responsible for investigating crime. Any arrested people will be handed over to the North Yorkshire force for transport and processing, and submission of prosecution files. The powers will formally come into effect when the eight Cathedral Constables and Head of Security are sworn in (attested) at a ceremony at the Minster in the spring. Similar officers from Canterbury, Liverpool and Chester are attested and hold the powers of constable in their respective cathedral and precincts.


The Minster Police featured in a BBC2 documentary, about a year in the life of the cathedral, as reviewed in the July 2014 print issue of Professional Security. Besides the ‘customer service’ side of work, helping locals and visiting tourists find their way around the place, the Minster Police may have to deal with protesters, as in August 2015 when a man climbed scaffolding.


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