Hide and Seek


Basic Police Info - acronyms, ranks and terminology.


CID stands for Criminal Investigations Department (I think -it may mean division.) This is where the detectives work, dealing with more serious and complex crimes than uniformed officers on the street can manage. A period of training has to be undergone before one becomes a full detective after moving from uniformed work. (Officers have to be in uniform for at least two years before applying for secondment/transfer to CID.)

DC - Detective Constable

Your basic detective rank. Does quite a lot of investigating, sometimes in a team, sometimes alone.

DS - Detective Sergeant

Normally about 3 or 4 in any department. They can work alone, but normally work with a DC. They investigate any sort of crime, but an officer of this rank or higher is always involved when the crime is serious - i.e. murder.

DI - Detective Inspector

Normally only one DI per CID unit. They are in charge of the day to day running of their team - including the paperwork - and do quite a lot of investigation as well, especially on more serious cases.

DCI - Detective Chief Inspector

Again, only one per unit. They are in overall charge of CID. They do some investigative work, but also a lot of liaison with the other senior officers in the station. Plus a lot of paperwork and balancing the budget!


Uniform officers work in three eight-hour shifts. The officers on each shift are known as a relief - normally A, B and C.

Each relief contains:

1 Duty Inspector

4 Sergeants

Sundry Uniformed Constables

+ One Chief Inspector, who oversees that lot. (There are also other Chief Inspectors floating around, such as the Community Liaison Officer, but I don't know much about their duties.)


A Chief Superintendent is in overall charge of the station



Complaints Investigation Bureau

These officers investigate complaints of misconduct against the police themselves. Much despised.


Crown Prosecution Service

These lawyers and assorted others assess and prosecute the criminals. Equivalent, I think, to the Australian DPP or the American DA. But I believe the British legal system doesn't allow as much lawyeristic manoeuvring in terms of sentencing, etc.

Customs and Excise

The people who work out of Customs House investigate trade, abuses of VAT (value added tax) and some other tax-type things. (I did mention I was only an amateur.)


British police do not carry guns on the beat. There are special units who deal with armed situations (ARV - armed response vehicle), and officers who have completed a special training course are allowed to carry a gun when it has been authorised from above.

'Nick' and forms there of

'The Nick' is a slang term for a police station. The statement, "You're nicked!" means roughly, "I'm arresting you!"


When there is suspected criminal activity etc, officers try and observe what is happening, for evidential and investigative purpose. A particular plan to see something particular happens is an obbo - observation.


A snout is a registered police informant, who gives information about what the criminal fraternity is up to. Often slightly dodgy themselves. Officers are supposed to be in pairs when they go to meet a snout.


Scene-of-crime-officers. They are forensic scientists who look for evidence at the scene of a crime. There's also a DSE - Divisional Scene Examiner - who does a similar job. (The subtle differences escape me, I'm afraid).


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