UK Police

The 1861 Offences Against the Person Act stipulates that “where any murder or manslaughter shall be committed on land out of the United Kingdom … by any subject of Her Majesty [it] may be dealt with, inquired of, tried, determined, and punished … in England or Ireland”.

A lack of forensic testing around the cause of death in many parts of the developing world and even the European Union may preclude an adequate police investigation. As a result, leverage from the bereaved family and UK coroners may bring about a UK police investigation conducted abroad.

The UK police face many other potential challenges and pitfalls in carrying out overseas investigations. Aside from cultural differences and language barriers, UK police officers deal with an array of judicial processes and varying standards of policing practice. In much of the developing world, for instance, there will be little or no access to computers, DNA or fingerprinting assets; across the globe, penalties for and definitions of offences will vary.

There are also challenges in managing relationships not only with local police and international institutions (for example, Interpol and Europol) but also those UK government bodies that will have an involvement, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Victim Support Homicide Service, and coroners.

Police Ranks of the United Kingdom

Most of the police forces of the United Kingdom use a standardised set of ranks, with a slight variation in the most senior ranks for the Metropolitan Police Service and City of London Police.

  • Police Constable (PC)
  • Sergeant (Sgt or PS)
  • Inspector (Insp)
  • Chief Inspector (C/Insp)
  • Superintendent (Supt / "Super")
  • Chief Superintendent (C/Supt / "Chief Super")

A police officer with investigative duties, up to and including the rank of Chief Superintendent, is a detective and the word Detective is prefixed to their rank (eg: Detective Chief Inspector), except for the rank of Police Constable where the word Police is omitted, making them a Detective Constable:

    •    Detective Constable (DC)
    •    Detective Sergeant (Det Sgt or PS)
    •    Detective Inspector (Det Insp)
    •    Detective Chief Inspector (Det C/Insp)
    •    Detective Superintendent (Det Supt / "Super")
    •    Detective Chief Superintendent (Det C/Supt / "Chief Super")

The standard Chief Officer ranks outside London are:
    •    Assistant Chief Constable (ACC)
    •    Deputy Chief Constable (DCC)
    •    Chief Constable (CC)

Within London's Metropolitan Police Service, the Chief Officer ranks are:
    •    Commander
    •    Deputy Assistant Commissioner (DAC)
    •    Assistant Commissioner  (AC)
    •    Deputy Commissioner
    •    Commissioner

The City of London Police use similar Chief Officer ranks to the Metropolitan Police Service but with fewer ranks:
    •    Commander
    •    Assistant Commissioner
    •    Commissioner.

The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police is often considered to be the highest police rank within the United Kingdom, although in reality every Chief Constable and the two Commissioners are supreme over their own forces and are not answerable to any other officer.

Special Constables ("Specials") are volunteer police officers who have exactly the same powers as a regular officer, and (with minor exceptions) wear the same uniform and are issued the same equipment. The roles of "specials" can vary greatly from force to force.

Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) in general do not have a rank system: their epaulettes simply bear the words "POLICE COMMUNITY SUPPORT OFFICER" and their shoulder number, or, in the Metropolitan Police, a borough identification code and shoulder number. They are non-warranted officers, but are provided a variety of police powers and the power of a Constable in various instances.