Mersey Tunnels Police

The officers who train cathedral constables in personal safety training (PST) are qualified instructors from the Mersey Tunnels Police (MTP). This small specialist force polices the Mersey Tunnels in Merseyside (between Liverpool and the Wirral). Like cathedral constables they are a private constabulary and are employed by Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority (Mersey Travel). The first Mersey Tunnel was originally policed by officers from Liverpool City Police and Birkenhead Borough Police, each force manning one side of the tunnel.

This proved unsatisfactory and the Mersey Tunnel Authority requested the Home Office to allow for the creation of a specialist constabulary to police the tunnel. This was granted, on the proviso that the Authority funds the newly created force. This done, officers were attested as constables, deriving their power originally from Section 105 of the Liverpool Corporation Act 1936, which states: 


‘The Mersey Tunnel Authority shall have the power to appoint any of their officers or servants to act as constables for the police of the tunnel, its approaches and marshalling areas governed by the Mersey Tunnel by-laws.’ 


This was later amended by virtue of Section 267 of the Local Government Act 1972, the powers given under Section 105 of the Liverpool Corporation Act 1936 passed to Merseyside County Council.


In turn, the authority to appoint constables was passed to Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority under Section 105 of the County of Merseyside Act 1980 as amended by Section 105 (i) of the Local Government Act 1985.


1. The Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority may appoint any of their Officers or Servants to act as a Law Enforcement Officer for the policing of the Tunnels, approach roads and any marshalling area.


2. Every Officer or Servant so appointed as a Law Enforcement Officer under this section, shall on appointment, be attested as a Constable by making a declaration before a Justice of the Peace, that he will duly execute the office of Constable.


Their jurisdiction, as prescribed in Section 105 is limited to the two Mersey Tunnels, The Kingsway (Wallasey) and Queensway (Birkenhead), their approaches and marshalling yards. Within these areas MTP officers have full police powers and, additionally uphold the tunnel byelaws. MTP officers are the first responder service for all incidents within the tunnels. Having said this, officers are sometimes involved in dealing with incidents, if stopped by members of the public, when travelling between the Mersey Tunnels. At the request of the two Home Office forces (Merseyside Police and Cheshire Constabulary), MPT officers occasionally assist with high-urgency motorway incidents in the surrounding area where their own patrols are unavailable or some distance away.

Officers frequently patrol bus stations operated by Mersey Travel in addition to their tunnel duties. Mostly MTP officers are engaged in enforcing road traffic legislation and byelaws within their jurisdiction, although they can, and do, find themselves dealing with drugs, public order and even sexual offences. They also assist Merseyside Police in the stopping of vehicles through the ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) system which has cameras sited on both tunnels, this leads to various offences including wanted or disqualified drivers, no insurance and drug trafficking.  


MTP has a fleet of fully equipped police marked vehicles including a prisoner transport van, Volvo XC70 Estates and Land Rover Discovery 4X4s. The force is a specialist traffic service and all officers are trained, as a minimum, to Police level 4 response driving standards. They are also Fire first response and First Aid/Defibrillator trained.


Officers' are uniformed similarly to Home Office force officers; although as traffic officers they wear peaked caps with white covers. Personal protection equipment (PPE) comprising stab vest, rigid handcuffs and the Manadnock Auto-lock tactical baton is issued and all officers undergo an annual two day PST refresher, now joined by their cathedral constable colleagues.


MTP officers have formed a reciprocal support arrangement with the cathedral constables nationally. Liverpool Cathedral provides the venue for PST and storage of the MTP’s equipment. In turn, the Tunnels Police provides the cathedral constables with both foundation and annual refresher training. Training, which meets the requirements of the College of Policing, provides instruction in Police National Decision Making Model, rigid handcuffing, tactical baton and unarmed skills.


The site author and his colleagues, those who have experienced both Home Office force PST and the training provided by MTP instructors, are of the view that the quality is of at least equal, and in many aspects, superior to the Home Office force training they have received in the past. 

Today, the force has 51 officers; one chief officer (Superintendent), five Inspectors, 10 Sergeants and, 35 Constables. MTP has a state of the art CCTV monitoring Command and Control Centre. Manned 24/7 from the control room officers monitor the tunnels for accidents, emergencies, breakdowns and traffic violations, responding at a moment’s notice. The Queensway tunnel has a number of safety refuges here motorists can seek refuge in an emergency. Equipped with blankets, water and a direct viewing link to the control centre, officers are able to reassure contacts in a safe environment until the emergency is dealt with, or under direction of a police officer, evacuate via vent stations exits. The Kingsway Tunnel has cross passages enabling in an emergency, access across from the north or south tubes.

Like all police work there is a significant element of danger involved. Sadly, on 10 November 1967 a MTP officer was killed while attempting to remove a metal bar from the carriageway. Stepping off the walkway into the road PC Derek McIntyre was struck by a heavy goods vehicle. The vehicle was later found to have defective brakes and the driver was convicted of causing his death by dangerous driving. PC McIntyre is the only member of the force known to have died in the line of duty.



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