Cleveland Police takes its heritage from three long established police forces, each with its own proud history and traditions.

The part of the force area which lies to the north of the River Tees was formerly policed by Durham Constabulary.  A County Force was established in 1839 to police the balance of the ancient County Palatine following the creation, a few years earlier, of separate Borough Police Forces in the towns of Sunderland, Gateshead and South Shields, and in the City of Durham.  This began with an establishment of 66 officers spread over four operational divisions centred on the county towns of Chester-le-Street, Darlington, Easington, and Stockton, the latter also encompassing the twin towns of Hartlepool and West Hartlepool.  The pre-eminence of the County Force grew steadily over the years as it absorbed one Borough Force after another.  The only exception to this trend was in the case of Hartlepool which became separate from the county in 1851, when the town was granted a Charter of Incorporation as a Borough.  It then established its own Borough Force, which remained almost independent for nearly 100 years before returning to the County Force in 1947.

The consolidation of policing in the county under a single Force was finally complete in 1967.  The resultant greater Durham Constabulary had an establishment of over 2,800 officers with a further 600 civilian staff, making it then one of the largest provincial police forces in the country.  What had taken 130 years to achieve was, however, destined only to last a matter of months as the County's boundaries contracted first in 1968 and again in 1974 as a result of successive Local Government reorganisations.  At it's height, in the 1960s, Durham Constabulary was at the leading edge of development in many areas of police equipment and technology, from the use of early computer systems to the introduction of the first personal radio networks.  It is therefore no surprise that today, Cleveland Police is at the forefront of the latest technological developments in these and other areas.

The town of Middlesbrough established its own tiny police force of a Superintendent and a handful of Constables when it was granted a Charter of Incorporation as a Borough in 1853.  From these meagre beginnings, the Middlesbrough force grew in strength and prominence. Despite attempts by the neighbouring North Riding Constabulary to take over this fledgling force, Middlesbrough remained staunchly independent until the late 1960s.  Moreover, Middlesbrough further strengthened its position in 1913, when, following a change in Local Government boundaries, the township of North Ormesby was transferred from the North Riding to Middlesbrough and the County Police Station was handed over to Middlesbrough.

The third of the contributing forces was the North Riding of Yorkshire.  This was established in 1856 to police the vast areas of Richmond and Scarborough, and each had their own separate little forces of two and six men respectively.  The sparsely populated nature of much of these areas and the relative isolation of many local constables fostered the development of self-sufficiency among members of the Force.  Often the local Constable had to be capable of either dealing with the incident himself or coping until assistance could arrive.

The excellent services provided by these three forces, the continued development of the Teesside area as one of the main players in industrial Britain made this three force arrangement seem unwieldy.  Changes in work and social patterns had resulted in increased movement of people across the area, helped by an ever improving road network.  These factors were recognised in the Local Government reorganisations of 1968 which the creation of the County Borough of Teesside and the corresponding formation of the Teesside Constabulary.  In 1974 the County Borough of Teesside was extended to become the County of Cleveland.

This multi-force heritage has proved a continuing influence on the formation and development of the Cleveland Police.  The inherited practices and traditions have been complemented by contemporary policing techniques to form the foundation for a modern Police Force embarking on an exciting journey into the 21st century.