Association of Chief Police Officers

Background to the Collection

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) came into being following a partial merger of the County Chief Constables' Club (established 1858) and the Chief Constables' Association of England and Wales (established 1896). Both organisations had operated primarily for social purposes, with the County Chief Constables’ Club providing services for senior officers of County forces, and the Chief Constables’ Association providing the same for senior officers of City and Borough Forces.

Work towards amalgamation of the two bodies began in 1943, however it was only in July 1948 that the two organisations completed their amalgamation and formed the Chief Constables' Association. At this stage distinctions were retained between City, Borough and County forces. In 1952 this distinction between forces was dropped and the Metropolitan Police became members. From this point the association became the Association of Chief Police Officers of England and Wales. The inclusion of the Royal Ulster Constabulary from 1970 onwards resulted in ACPO becoming the Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

From the mid-1960s ACPO became more involved in facilitating the co-ordination and co-operation of police forces, as well as influencing policing policy at a national level. In 1990 its constitution was formalised, with a "Statement of Common Purpose and Values":

  • The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is an independent, professionally led strategic body
  • In the public interest and, in equal and active partnership with Government and the Association of Police Authorities, ACPO leads and coordinates the direction and development of the police service in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • In times of national need ACPO, on behalf of all chief officers, coordinates the strategic policing response

In 1996 ACPO became a private company limited by guarantee, providing it the status of a legal entity able to bring and defend legal actions. In April 2013, following an independent review into its structure, function and value for money, ACPO was disbanded.

See our online catalogue for a full history of ACPO.

What is in the collection?

The collection (reference U DPO) contains records pertaining to ACPO between 1856-2005, including minutes and administrative papers of the Secretariat, the Council, the Committees and Sub-Committees. The collection also contains subject files which cover a wide variety of themes including police training and discipline, penal reform, recruitment, and community relations. The collection contains information about major national events such as the 1984-85 Miners' Strike, the 2000 fuel protests, and the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry.

What areas of research would the collection support?

The collection is useful for researchers looking at the following areas:

  • The development of policing practice in the 20th century
  • Police leadership in the 20th century
  • Employment, working conditions and staff associations
  • The corporatisation of the police service in the 20th century
  • The police response to the 1984-85 miners’ strike.

Are there any access issues?

U DPO includes items containing personal sensitive information which are not available for public inspection during the lifetime of the data subject. Items which are closed are clearly marked in the catalogue. All other material is available to researchers. If you have a query about access to material in this collection please contact the University Archives team.

Is there any related material?

At Hull History Centre:

  • The papers of Liberty (U DCL), Chris Mullin MP (U DMU) and Sir Patrick Cormack MP (U DPK) provide content which relates to events present within U DPO
  • Further records relating to the history of crime can be found in the Hull Quarter sessions records (C CQA and C CQB), the Hull Borough records (C BR), and the Hull Magistrates records (C DPM).

At other repositories:

  • The National Archives holds records of the Home Office and also of official inquiries into the police to which ACPO contributed evidence or comment
  • A Guide to the Archives of the Police Forces of England and Wales (PDF) was created in 1989 by Ian Bridgeman and Professor Clive Emsley. This provides a useful guide to locating further content
  • The National Police Library, based at the College of Policing, provides a more complete catalogue of police related publications and reports. Their catalogue is searchable online and content can be made available by inter-library loan. The library welcomes enquiries from non-police researchers.

Please see our politics and campaigning page for further guidance on our political collections.