The Thames Valley generally implies the region that drains into the River Thames (the Thames catchment), from West of Cirencester to London but is used in a more specific term by the government.
In its more specific sense, as used in the name of Thames Valley Police, it refers to the areas of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. This area has had a single police force since 1968, and in 1999 acquired a single magistrates' court committee, as a merger of the previous Buckinghamshire and Berkshire & Oxfordshire committees.
The Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce covers this area, who are well known and respected in the area, and hold the top accolade of 'National chamber of the Year'. The Thames Valley Business Partnership and a Thames Valley University are also.
The area is covered by a single Britain in Bloom region called Thames and Chilterns; this term is also promoted as a tourist destination.
Thames Valley Police is one of the largest Home Office police services in England and the largest non-metropolitan one, covering 2200 sq mi (5,700 km²) and a population of 2.1 million. The force is responsible for the Thames Valley area covered by the ceremonial counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.
In December 2003, Thames Valley Police employed over 6,000 staff, including 4,189 police officers. Its motto is Sit pax in valle tamesis (Latin: 'Let there be Peace in the Thames Valley'); its slogan is reducing crime, disorder and fear.
The Chief Constable of the force is Sara Thornton who was promoted to the position in April 2007.
Thames Valley Police Authority has 10 elected members, with two from Oxfordshire County Council, one from Buckinghamshire County Council, and one each from the unitary authorities of Bracknell Forest, Milton Keynes, Reading, Slough, Wokingham, West Berkshire, and Windsor and Maidenhead. There are three justices of the peace, one each from Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire.
The Thames Valley Police force was formed in 1968 through the amalgamation of the Buckinghamshire Constabulary, the Berkshire Constabulary, Oxford City Police, the Oxfordshire Constabulary and the Reading Borough Police.
Proposals made by the Home Secretary on March 20, 2006 would see the force stay as a single strategic police force for the area, a merger with Hampshire Constabulary having been rejected.
The force is split into five Basic Command Units (BCUs) these being Oxfordshire, Berkshire West, Berkshire East, Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes. In turn each BCU is split into Local Policing Areas (LPAs) that are coterminous with local authority boundaries.
The headquarters of Thames Valley Police is at Oxford Road, Kidlington, Oxfordshire. The force is covered by two control rooms, with the one in Abingdon covering Oxfordshire, Berkshire West, and one in Milton Keynes covering the Borough of Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire East.
The two "PEC"s (Police Enquiry Centres) were formed in 2003, in addition to the closure of local control rooms to support the newly formed control rooms in Abingdon and Milton Keynes. They are located in [Windsor] police station and in a business park nearby to the Force Headquarters in Kidlington. The PEC handle non-emergency calls from the public.
Sulhamstead House in Sulhamstead is the Thames Valley Police training college, which also houses the Thames Valley Police Museum.
There are also several Roads Policing bases at strategic locations around the force at Abingdon, Bicester, Taplow, Amersham, Aylesbury, Milton Keynes, Three Mile Cross and Chieveley.
In the media the most famous Thames Valley Police officer may be the fictional Inspector Morse (along with his aide, Sergeant Lewis), the main character in 13 novels by Colin Dexter and 33 television episodes by ITV.
In 1982 the BBC broadcast a nine part series by Roger Graef and Charles Blewitt entitled "Police", which showed a fly-on-the-wall account of Thames Valley's E Division based in Reading.