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Old 07-17-2007, 11:37 PM
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Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Shakedown Street
Posts: 12,950
Please explain British police ranks/abbreviations

As a recent fan of such shows as Murphy’s Law, MI-5, and Life on Mars, I get terms like D.I. thrown at me with reckless abandon. Can someone point to a website (or list, if you have the time) that runs the acronyms, relative ranks, and structure of the main British civil services? Kind of like private > corporal > sergeant > etc. if one were explaining the US military.


Old 07-18-2007, 01:41 AM
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 11,049
Old 07-18-2007, 01:50 AM
Straight Dope Science Advisory Board
Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: Beijing, China
Posts: 21,368
This site has a few links to show you the names and insignia for ranks. Navigate to the United Kingdom pages and select the Police insignias section.

Last edited by Gfactor; 07-18-2007 at 09:26 AM. Reason: Fixed coding.
Old 07-18-2007, 02:42 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 151
It goes:

- Chief Constable
- Deputy Chief Constable
- Assistant Chief Constable
- Chief Superintendent
- Superintendent
- Chief Inspector
- Inspector
- Sergeant
- Constable

The Met, the City of London and a few other forces have a slightly different structure at the top, but basically they have Commissioners and Commanders instead of Chief Constables.

Officers who have the prefix 'Detective' before their rank are part of the Criminal Investigations Department (C.I.D.) and are usually plain clothes officers. The rank structure is exactly the same as for uniforms - you get Detective Sergeants (D.S.), Detective Inspectors (D.I.) and so on, all the way up to Detective Chief Superintendents (D.C.S.). A Detective Sergeant, for example, does not outrank his uniformed counterpart.

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