<<< This is a post primarily aimed at non-police readers. >>>
I once wrote a small guide for Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust, explaining police ranks and roles. Here it is, made generic to whole UK, to explain what it means for health and social care professionals. You are only likely to see the first three in operational situations; the next three in local partnership meetings or during extremely serious incidents.
NB: Can I ask police officers not to point out the gross-oversimplification that this represents?! It is an indicative guide only for non-police readers and I’m well aware of how it doesn’t survive contact with detailed reality in all areas!
And before I list them, all ranks up to and including Chief Superintendent, can be uniform or detectives. They are of equivalent rank – so a uniformed sergeant ‘outranks’ a detective constable, and so on.
Senior detectives – Inspector to Chief Superintendent – are also sometimes referred to as Senior Investigating Officers. The more serious the matter, the more senior the SIO. So murders are usually Detective Chief Inspectors or Detective Superintendents. Serious violence or sexual offences, Detective Inspectors or Detective Chief Inspectors … and so on.
Likely to be the ones supporting MHA processes like assessments on private premises; investigating volume offences against NHS staff by inpatients, detaining people under s136 MHA and locating / recovering AWOL patients.
Usually at least two or three in each borough on duty at any time, as well as one or more working as “The Custody Sergeant” in the cells. They are the first port-of-call for queries about police responses.
Police Inspector – Senior operational officer 24/7. Oversees all officers on duty at that time – there is usually just one “duty inspector” in operational command at any time.
Oversees responses to critical incidents, can “call out” senior / specialist officers out of hours, as required. Final arbiter of police response and resourcing disputes: internal AND external.
LOCAL SENIOR OFFICERS
Chief Inspector – Usually two or three working on any borough. Would oversee “Response Teams” and / or “Police Neighbourhood Teams” or “CID / Investigations / Offender Management”.
Also like to act as senior public order or firearms commanders and critical incident managers. One of them will be “The DCI”, a senior detective, responsible for all crime investigation locally.
Superintendent – Usually one or two on each borough. Responsible for “Operations” or “Crime” or “Partnerships”. Also carry a range of particular statutory authorities and also act as senior public order or firearms commanders.
There is a superintendent on-call for every area; or one working 24/7 in most police forces.
Chief Superintendent – head of a policing area or headquarters department. They are responsible to the Chief Constable for all policing activity in their area. This person is the ‘local police chief’ to whom all local partnership, crime and operations matters are directed.
Otherwise known as “The Boss”.
FORCE SENIOR OFFICERS
Assistant Chief Constable (Non-London) – between one and five per force, dependent on size. Responsible for a certain policy area forcewide, as well as “territorial” oversight of two or more boroughs.
Commander (London) – head of a major department or group of boroughs. These are the chief officer rank.
Deputy Chief Constable (Non-London) – the senior discipline authority for each force and as name suggests, the 2nd in charge for the force. Has certain policy responsibilities and an overall eye of force performance. One per Non-London force.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner (London) – oversees groups of departments or boroughs in London. There are eight of them.
Assistant Commissioner (Metropolitan Police) – there are four ACs and although they carry similar responsibilities to ACCs it is on a far broader scale and equivalent in rank to Chief Constables.
MOST SENIOR METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICERS
This police officer – currently Sir Craig MACKAY (former Chief Constable of Cumbria) – is the 2nd highest ranking officer in the UK and is usually a former Chief Constable. He was appointed by HM the Queen on the Home Secretary’s recommendation.
Sir Bernard HOGAN-HOWE was appointed Met Commissioner in 2011. He was previously one of HM Inspectors of Constabulary, is a former Chief Constable of Merseyside and was appointed by HM the Queen on the Home Secretary’s recommendation.
The Mental Health Cop blog
– won the ConnectedCOPS ‘Top Cop’ Award for leveraging social media in policing.
– won the Digital Media Award from the UK’s leading mental health charity, Mind
– won a World of Mentalists #TWIMAward for the best in mental health blogs
– was highlighted by the Independent Commission on Policing & Mental Health
– was referenced in the UK Parliamentary debate on Policing & Mental Health
– was commended by the Home Affairs Select Committee of the UK Parliament.