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In 1868, the elements of the Western Frontier Constabulary in the Crown Colony of British Columbia were split off from the WFC, becoming the British Columbia Constabulary. After the establishment of the Dominion of British Columbia in 1875, the BCC absorbed the BC operations of the North West Mounted Police, and in 1876 Queen Victoria granted the Constabulary the name Royal British Columbia Constabulary.

The RBCC provides policing in all areas of the Dominion without a local municipal police force; while they do not have jurisdiction in those latter areas, they are authorised to continue pursuits that start in their own area of operation into municipal jurisdictions (though from the moment of crossing into a municipal jurisdiction, the municipal police force takes control of the situation).

The RBCC also has a maritime branch known as the Coastal Police that provides policing in remote coastal areas, and in areas designated Ports of Entry (Burrard Inlet, Victoria, Prince Rupert, Tsawwassen, and the Fraser River from Richmond to Port Coquitlam).

Further, the RBCC also has an Air Police branch.