Forms of Address
Most of the police ranks in the UK are standardised across the service, with slight variations in the most senior ranks of the Metropolitan Police Service and the City of London Police. Policing in Scotland and Northern Ireland has been devolved to the Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly respectively.
The police forces within Greater London – the Metropolitan Police Service and the City of London Police – are both headed by an appointed commissioner. The Commissioner of the City of London Police has the status of a justice of the peace.
The term ‘chief police officer’ refers to a commissioner or chief constable (‘senior police officer’ refers to their deputy).
Chief Officer Ranks
The Metropolitan Police Service has five ranks above the level of chief superintendent (commander, deputy assistant commissioner, assistant commissioner, deputy commissioner and commissioner) and The City of London Police has three (commander, assistant commissioner and commissioner).
Each territorial police force is headed by a chief constable.
Police Ranks of the United Kingdom
|Metropolitan Police Service||City of London Police||Police|
|Assistant Commissioner||–||Chief Constable|
|Deputy Assistant Commissioner||Assistant Commissioner||Deputy Chief Constable|
|Commander||Commander||Assistant Chief Constable|
|Chief Superintendent||Chief Superintendent||Chief Superintendent|
|Chief Inspector||Chief Inspector||Chief Inspector|
Below the rank of chief superintendent, police forces in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland share the same titles, and officers should be addressed in the same way.
There is no longer any differentiation between male and female officers.
For the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) the prefix ‘Detective’ is added to the ranks from constable to chief superintendent, eg ‘Detective Inspector Sheraton’.
At the beginning of a letter to a chief inspector, inspector, police sergeant or police constable, the appropriate rank is placed before the name, eg ‘Dear Chief Inspector Lisle’. The rank is also placed on the envelope before the name.
Police sergeant is often abbreviated to PS, police constable to PC, detective sergeant to DS and detective constable to DC. The table on page 89 does not differ in Scotland or Northern Ireland.
‘Ma’am’ is commonly used to verbally address female officers of the rank of inspector and above in British police forces.
Although the correct pronunciation is to rhyme the word with ‘lamb’, female officers are still generally addressed as ‘Ma’am’ rhyming with ‘harm’.
Police and Crime Commissioners
Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are elected to a fouryear term in a police area of England and Wales. They were first elected in 2012, replacing the police authorities. Their role is to cut crime and deliver an effective and efficient police service within their force area, as well as being the voice of the people. They are not warranted police officers.
The Police: Forms of Address
|Commissioner (MetropolitanPolice)||According to title or Dear Commissioner||Sir Ben Hopkins, KBE, Commissioner of The Metropolitan Police||According to title or Commissioner||According to title or The Commissioner|
|Commissioner (City of London Police)||According to title or Dear Commissioner||Sir Thomas Archer, KBE, Commissioner of Police for The City of London||According to title or Commissioner||According to title or The Commissioner|
|Chief Constable (other police forces)||According to title or Dear Chief Constable||Sir Edward Carnaby, KBE, Chief Constable of Gloucestershire Constabulary||According to title or Chief Constable||According to title or The Chief Constable|
|Deputy Commissioner (MetropolitanPolice)||According to title or Dear Deputy Commissioner||Daniel Mercer, Esq, Deputy Commissioner of The Metropolitan Police||According to title or Deputy Commissioner||According to title or The Deputy Commissioner|
|Assistant Commissioner (Metropolitan Police/City of London Police)||According to title or Dear Assistant Commissioner||David Beak, Esq, Assistant Commissioner, for The City of London/ Metropolitan Police||According to title or Assistant Commissioner||According to title or Assistant Commissioner|
|Deputy Assistant Commissioner (Metropolitan Police)||According to title or Dear Deputy Assistant Commissioner||Nicholas Swallow, Esq, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police||According to title or Deputy Assistant Commissioner||According to title or Deputy Assistant Commissioner|
|Commander (Metropolitan Police/City of London Police)||According to title or Dear Commander Pollen||Commander Edgar Pollen, Metropolitan Police/City of London Police||According to title or Commander||According to title or The Commander|
|Ranks below Chief Superintendent are all addressed in the same way||Chief Superintendent Brewer (or appropriate rank)||Chief Superintendent Brewer (or appropriate rank), or Henry Brewer, Esq||Chief Superintendent (or appropriate rank) or by name||Chief Superintendent (or appropriate rank) or by name|