The Police Act 1964 (1964 c.48) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that updated the legislation governing police forces in England and Wales, constituted new police authorities, gave the Home Secretary new powers to supervise local constabularies, and allowed for the amalgamation of existing forces into more efficient units.
A Royal Commission on the Police had been appointed in 1960 under the chairmanship of Henry Willink to "review the constitutional position of the police throughout Great Britain".
The appointment of the commission followed two high-profile scandals involving borough police forces. These exposed problems in the relationship between the chief constable and Watch Committee of each borough, and disputes between central and local government over the control of local forces. In 1958, following a trial into police corruption in Brighton, the presiding judge stated that the judiciary could have no faith in police evidence until the chief constable had been replaced. Brighton Watch Committee complained that they could not properly supervise the force, as they had no access to the annual report of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, which was sent to the Home Secretary. In 1959 the watch committee of Nottingham suspended the city's chief constable, Athelstan Popkess, when he refused to furnish a report on his investigations into alleged corruption of councillors. Details of the investigation were however leaked to the press on the eve of municipal elections. The committee were subsequently forced to reinstate Popkess when the Home Secretary, Rab Butler, threatened to withdraw central government funding.