A number of people have emailed me to tell me that some of the chief constable email addresses I have listed, do not work. Usually, this is due to a change in Chief Constable, but occasionally this is due to the police using unpredictable email addresses, perhaps as a means to prevent the public from contacting their Chief Constables. Derbyshire police are a perfect case in point, by using the cryptic: email@example.com.
The reason I can’t guarantee that all the email addresses are correct is because some of them I had to guess! This is because I could not find the associated email address anywhere. The police service are very guarded about providing the public with contact email addresses – that are by right public domain – including standard rank and file police constables. Thankfully the police use a standard format for assigning their staff with email addresses, which is as follows:
Firstname (dot) Lastname @ force location (dot) pnn.police.uk
So if you want to contact, say, PC Andrew Bland at Cheshire Constabulary then you would type firstname.lastname@example.org
It doesn’t matter if you capitalise the name or server address such as Andrew.Bland@Cheshire.PNN.Police.UK – because email addresses are not case sensitive. The target server will disregard any uppercase characters and apply lowercase to all characters.
Some police forces abbreviate their force location and to further complicate matters, not all of them use “pnn” as part of their email address. To make it easier, here is a full list of police server addresses, so all you need to do is enter firstname.lastname of the known officer at the beginning.
Avon & Somerset Constabulary
British Transport Police
City of London Police
Civil Nuclear Constabulary
Devon & Cornwall Police
Dyfed Powys Police
Greater Manchester Police
Metropolitan Police Service
North Wales Police
North Yorkshire Police
Police Service of Northern Ireland
South Wales Police
South Yorkshire Police
Thames Valley Police
West Mercia Police
West Midlands Police
West Yorkshire Police
Of course, it’s important that you spell the officer’s name correctly, otherwise your email is likely to bounce back. If there are several officers at the same force with the same name then you may have to add the officer’s collar number to the email address. In the case of doubt, you should call 101 and ask to be put through to the relevant force. All calls are automated so you won’t be asked why you need to speak to a force outside of your catchment area.
You should also call 101 is if you don’t know what the officer’s first name is, or the correct spelling of their last name. But you can spare yourself the guess work of emailing a police officer by simply asking the receptionist to provide you with it! Call handlers should by right provide callers with an officer’s email address upon request. Unfortunately, what the police should do and what they actually do are very different things. It’s not uncommon for call handlers to get defensive and precious about email addresses and insist the caller give a reason for making the request. I always say that I need to send the officer private information he or she requested. The call handler does not have any further right to vet callers for personal information or insist that she act as a go-between you and the officer. If they refuse to co-operate, just hang up and try later on, or the following day where hopefully you will get a more helpful receptionist.
Personally, I avoid all communication with the police unless it is strictly necessary, but if you do choose to email a police officer then ensure you don’t use any kind of language that they will misconstrue as a threat, or malicious communications. Nor should you send abuse or harassing emails to the officer concerned. Only use the email address if you have a genuine reason for doing so.
Most people will not email the police simply because they don’t want them to have their email address, or log their IP address. Locating the IP address of an originating email is actually very hard to do. There are tools and websites online that allow you to enter the headers of any email you receive and it will attempt to tell you where the email originated from. In the case of gmail and outlook subscribers, this IP address will usually come back as the central server that organisation uses as part of their email sending services. Email headers do not as standard reveal the email address from your home or place of work.
If you would rather the police do not have your email address or IP information, then I would recommend using an anonymous online email sender such as this one. You are free to write anything you want as a return email address and leave the name section blank. I can’t vouch for the reliability of these types of websites, or whether or not a receiving server will block them, but they are the quickest method of sending an anonymous email without having to resort to proxy servers or use a Tor browser.
I would also recommend using Protonmail as the most secure and popular method of protecting your email identity. It is free to use and does not require entering an existing email address, or mobile phone number as almost every other free email service requires. The site was developed by scientists, engineers, and developers drawn together by a shared vision of protecting civil liberties online. All of their servers are located in Switzerland and protected by strict Swiss privacy laws. Messages are stored on ProtonMail servers in encrypted format. Because data is encrypted at all steps, the risk of message interception is largely eliminated.
You can use anonymous methods to make legitimate complaints against a police officer that you may have had a bad experience with, but you must provide your name and a valid email address the police can respond to (hence why Protonmail would be more suitable). The public (and the police) seem to believe that a complainant must provide a valid home address to register an official complaint, but that simply isn’t true. I would never provide a home address when making a complaint because this will automatically be added to police systems against whatever data they already hold on you.
Calling 101 – even on a withheld number – will not prevent the police from seeing the originating number on their switchboard. This is because all emergency service call centres strip away call cloaking. The only way you can prevent a number showing up on police systems is by using Skype or a similar internet phone line service.
Although there is nothing illegal about using any of these methods to send emails, and wanting to remain anonymous does not equate to criminality, the police are a paranoid bunch and they will go out of their way to misinterpret any attempts at communicating them as ‘malicious’ or ‘harassing’. So please ensure you use these resources wisely and not as a means to further hate or intimidation.
I’m sure there are many other methods of hiding your identity via email and telephone services, and I’m sure the technically savvy of you who read this will be emailing me to let me know what they are. Meanwhile, if you find any of the chief constable email addresses, or the police server addresses, I have listed are incorrect and you have obtained the correct ones, then please email me here so I can update them.