There is a High Sheriff for each county in England and Wales, though the Shrieval Counties ("Shrieval" means anything to do with a Sheriff) are no longer co-terminous with administrative areas, representing a mix between the traditional counties and more recent local authority areas.
Sheriffs’ functions are largely representational. They attend judges sitting in local courts and provide hospitality for them, and many are active in local and national schemes that reflect their historical functions, in particular National Crimebeat which seeks to keep young people from going into crime and the new DebtCred scheme, which aims to improve standards of financial literacy, so that people are more aware of the dangers of debt, how to avoid it, and how to cope with it.
High Sheriffs are appointed for a year. The post is unpaid (except for a nominal court attendance allowance), and the general expenses of the office are borne personally by the holder. The system of appointing Sheriffs reflects the antiquity of the office. It is the responsibility of each High Sheriff to provide the names of people suitable to serve in the future. These names are added to the list of Sheriffs, and every November at a ceremony in the High Court the Lord Chief Justice and three other judges formally add as many new names for each county as are needed to ensure that there are Sheriffs in nomination for each of the next three years. A Sheriff needs to own property in the county for which he or she is nominated. The following March The Queen, at a meeting of the Privy Council, formally selects one of the three nominated Sheriffs to serve for the next twelve months by literally pricking a hole through his or her name on the List with a bodkin.
For more information on High Sheriffs please visit the High Sheriffs Association.