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Our units

In Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, we have a number of units that work together and specialise in different areas of policing to contribute towards creating a safer place for us all to live and work;

Working together not only results in cost efficiencies but also helps the forces share specialist intelligence, information and knowledge. 

Armed Policing Unit (tri-force)

Our Armed Policing Unit aims to provide an immediate armed response to incidents where firearms have been, are being or are thought to be in use.

The collaborated unit, covering Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire is based in two areas;

The use of firearms requires an effective and professional response and all our operations, whether spontaneous or pre-planned, follow strict guidelines.

All firearms officers receive frequent training and gain qualifications in each weapon they’re authorised to carry. If an officer fails to meet national requirements, their authority to carry a firearm will be taken away.

The training teaches officers to specialise in the following roles;

  • rifle officers - this includes VIP protection, rural and urban protection work and intelligence
  • close protection officers - their aim is to keep a protected person safe and away from potential attacks
  • specialist firearms officers - their responsibilities include entering buildings, buses, coaches, trains and aircraft to rescue hostages
  • Luton airport - this is one of London’s major airports where officer’s conduct 24 hour patrols
  • surveillance firearms integration course - these officers work with surveillance teams during operations that may require armed resources, either as a tactical option or as back-up.

The unit also has the support of Armed Response Vehicles (ARV) that are available 24/7 to help officers respond to firearms incidents. 

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Dog Unit (tri-force)

Our Dog Unit is a combination of trained police dogs and handlers from Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. From searching for a missing person to tracking down a burglar, the team play a vital role in our fight against crime. With 34 handlers and more than 40 dogs, the unit provides 24/7 support across the three counties.

Each officer handles a dog that is trained to track offenders or missing people by following the trail left by them on the ground. They search for people and/or items in buildings or open areas, chase and catch offenders and protect officers in dangerous situations.

Some dogs are also specially trained to detect drugs, cash, firearms or explosives through their sense of smell;

  • proactive dogs - these dogs find drugs, guns and cash and are trained to search houses, planes, cars and lorries. We understand that drugs are as dangerous to dogs, as they are to people, so we train dogs to freeze when they find drugs so they don’t come into contact with them
  • explosives dogs - these dogs are trained to search and find explosives.

The unit provides the best of care for its dogs and at the end of a satisfying career when a dog completes its service, usually at about eight years of age, they can either stay with its handler or be re-homed with a carefully vetted owner.

Careers for canines

We recruit dogs from a number of different sources, but dogs donated by the public provide the majority of dogs which work in our unit.

Have you got a dog that may be a suitable recruit for our unit? We’re looking for dogs between one and two years, particularly German Shepherds, springer spaniels and labradors.

If you have a dog that you think may make a good police dog, you can contact our Dog Unit on 101.

Our handlers will pay a visit to the dog in their home and if considered suitable, arrangements will be made for them to be taken on a short-term trial. The dog will be assessed free of charge, to see whether it has the right attributes and temperament to be considered for police dog training.

If considered unsuitable the dog will be returned to its owner or re-homed to an environment that suits them. If the dog looks to be a good prospect, the owner will be asked to sign the dog over to the Dog Unit. Upon successful completion of training, the dog will become part of the team, enjoying a long career with its handler.

All dogs are matched to a handler who works with the dog for the rest of its career. They live and work together to become an efficient team to track, search and chase criminals.

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Firearms and Explosives Licensing Department (tri-force)

Our Firearms and Explosives Licensing Department supports the legal, safe and secure possession of firearms across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, with the aim to;

  • ensure relevant certificates are given only to those who meet the statutory criteria
  • carry out enquiries into certificate holders and registered firearms dealers if/when they come into contact with the police
  • take positive action against certificate holders who may present a danger to the public.

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Road Policing Unit (tri-force)

Our Road Policing Unit (RPU) consists of three police forces; Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. The three forces work together to make the roads safer in all three counties. Our officers are trained to deal with various situations including;

The unit is responsible for investigating fatal and serious injury collisions, reducing crime and increasing safety on our roads. The unit consists of the following specialist teams;

  • forensic collision investigation - responsible for investigating and reporting on all road fatalities or serious injuries
  • traffic management - responsible for liaising with agencies and local authorities about traffic management, safety schemes, road closures for major traffic events, roadworks and enforcing road restrictions
  • vehicle recovery - responsible for overseeing the police garage recovery scheme and liaising with recovery workers
  • vehicle examination - provide vehicle examination support and offer advice and support concerning collisions, vehicle safety, criminal activity, vehicle detective work, external agency assistance and vehicle types
  • Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR).

RPU officers are out on the road 24/7 and deal with a range of situations from serious collisions to arresting suspects.

This requires all officers who drive the RPU vehicles to complete a high level of driver training which is regularly refreshed. Drivers are also trained in tactical pursuit and containment (TPAC) which encourages them to find an early resolution and safer alternative to pursuits, such as boxing in vehicles or using a stinger to deflate the tyres.

However, there are occasions where it is necessary to pursue vehicles. In these situations pursuits are well managed and risk assessed to ensure the safety of members of the public, those being pursued and the police officers themselves.

Our police vehicles aren’t modified for performance however we use vehicles which are specific to the role being carried out. For example, road policing vehicles are high performance cars which are equipped with necessary performance, handling and braking characteristics. The vehicles are also frequently serviced and are checked daily by officers.

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Major Crime Unit (tri-force)

Our Major Crime Unit brings together the expertise of detectives from Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire to investigate the most serious crimes, such as murder and kidnap.

Thankfully, major crime is rare in our counties and very few members of the public will ever come into contact with our officers and staff from the unit. However, we understand that the impact of these crimes can be devastating for the family and friends of those involved. We provide support, guidance and reassurance to anybody affected and strive to bring those responsible to justice. 

The unit is made up of two teams, led by Detective Chief Inspectors. One is based at our police headquarters in Huntingdon and the other at Hertfordshire’s headquarters in Welwyn Garden City. There is also a dedicated team to investigate cold cases, which are unsolved crime investigations that remain open, awaiting the discovery of new evidence.

Specialist officers within this unit are trained in a number of areas including family support, intelligence and investigative interviewing.

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Police Support Unit (tri-force)

The Police Support Unit (PSU) includes officers who are specially trained to manage and tackle serious public order such as violent and peaceful protests. Officers are given two levels of training;

  • level one officers receive regular training and complete a four-day programme each year, providing specialist training in diverse protest removal, stadium crowd entry tactics, anti-terrorist training and advanced method of entry training
  • level two officers attend level one training, plus an additional four day course each year which provides a live-time exercise to test their competency.

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Scientific Services (tri-force)

Our Scientific Services Unit provides forensic support across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire and attend a range of crimes ranging from vehicle theft, to murder.

The team retrieves evidence from crime scenes to help investigative officers detect and prevent crime across the three forces. This can include collecting fingerprints, footprints, DNA samples and photographic evidence.

The team have two main labs which are based at our headquarters in Huntingdon and Hertfordshire’s headquarters in Welwyn Garden City. 

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Joint unit policies

Units that are collaborated to serve Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire adhere to the overarching tri-force policy related to their area or department. Each policy references any procedure that aligns to that policy.

Each policy document is date and time stamped and is the most up to date version at the time of publishing; March 2018.

If you wish to request an updated version of a policy or associated procedure, you may submit a freedom of information request.  

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