York Minster’s private police force granted significant new powers at historic ceremony

The Dean's team. York Minster police with the Dean of York, the Very Revd Dr Vivienne Faull, after the attestation ceremony. Photographs: Anthony Chappel-Ross
23 May 2017 @ 9.07 pm
| News

For the first time in nearly 80 years, York Minster’s private police force has the same powers as regular constables – within the cathedral precinct.

The cathedral’s officers took on their enhanced role at a ceremony on Tuesday (23 May).

The Minster’s whole private police team – which is made up of eight cathedral constables and a head of escurity – were all sworn in at the ceremony.

This makes it historically unique. Future attestations will only cover individual officers, rather than the full team.

Dr Vivienne Faull congratulates Stephen Wilkinson

The ceremony follows specialist training – and the signing of a memorandum of understanding in February between the Chapter of York and the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police to formally recognise the new powers.

Oldest in the world

May the Minster force be with you

Established in the 13th century, the Minster 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 cathedral officers were sworn in as constables until the 1930s, when they ceased to be attested.

How they used to look: the York Minster police c1900s

York Minster is one of only seven cathedrals in the world to maintain its own police force. It works closely with North Yorkshire Police to keep the cathedral and its visitors safe.

Significant milestone

The ceremony took place in the 13th century Chapter House

Mark Sutcliffe, Inspector of Cathedral Police at York Minster, said:

I feel very proud of the whole team for attaining their attestation.

It will be an important day for everyone involved but also a significant milestone in the history of the force, which has played an important role in life at the cathedral for hundreds of years.

The historic service in progress

The attestation ceremony was performed by Duncan Webster, chairman of the North Yorkshire magistrates’ bench.

In the 13th century Chapter House each constable swore an oath on the 1,000 year old York Gospels before receiving their warrant card, constable’s hat and a certificate.

In the UK the Minster’s force join officers from Canterbury, Liverpool and Chester who are attested and hold the powers of constable in their respective cathedral and precincts.