What is a High Sheriff
The Office of High Sheriff is an independent non-political Royal appointment for a single year. The origins of the Office date back to Saxon times, when the ‘Shire Reeve’ was responsible to the king for the maintenance of law and order within the shire, or county, and for the collection and return of taxes due to the Crown. Today, there are 55 High Sheriffs serving the counties of England and Wales each year.
Whilst the duties of the role have evolved over time, supporting the Crown and the judiciary remain central elements of the role today. In addition, High Sheriffs actively lend support and encouragement to crime prevention agencies, the emergency services and to the voluntary sector. In recent years High Sheriffs in many parts of England and Wales have been particularly active in encouraging crime reduction initiatives, especially amongst young people. Many High Sheriffs also assist Community Foundations and local charities working with vulnerable and other people both in endorsing and helping to raise the profile of their valuable work.
Duties and Responsibilities
The principal formal duties of High Sheriffs today include attendance at royal visits in the County and support for Her Majesty’s High Court Judges when on Circuit. These days, however, High Sheriffs play an increasingly active and supportive role within their Counties both in relation to the Police and emergency services and in lending encouragement to public sector agencies such as the probation and prison services and to voluntary sector organisations involved in crime reduction and social cohesion.
The holder of the Office of High Sheriff, can be well placed to offer encouragement to those in their County who are engaged in supporting the voluntary sector and those most in need. Many High Sheriffs give their own personal awards to individuals, often unsung heroes within small voluntary groups, who have made an outstanding contribution in some way. As the Office is independent and non-political, High Sheriffs are able to bring together a wide range of people with the community they serve.
Each High Sheriff will approach their year slightly differently depending on their particular skills, experience and their own areas of interest.