As with all police and military forces, as well as other public services, the UK police make use of a broad lexicon of police acronyms, slang, and codes. These terms are used variously for purposes of brevity, ease and uniformity of communication, obfuscation, or plain old camaraderie.
Some of these police acronyms are known by the public. For example, vehicle theft is described as ‘TWOC’, short for ‘Taking Without Owner’s Consent’. Other police acronyms are less obvious, however – for example, forcibly stopping a vehicle is known as ‘PIT’ (‘Precision Immobilisation Technique Manoeuvre’).
Unsurprisingly, given their natural proximity, the police also share some slang terms with the criminal culture – notably, ‘dipper’ (a pickpocket), ‘drum’ (a house), and ‘grass’ (an informer). Here we present a fairly comprehensive list of police argot – do let us know if we’ve missed any.
Known UK Police Acronyms and SlangA
ABH – Actual Bodily Harm.
ACPO – The Association of Chief Police Officers.
AIO – All In Order.
AMIP – Area Major Incident Pool.
ANPR – Automatic Number Plate Recognition.
APPO – Area Press and Publicity Officer.
ARB – Accident Report Book.
ARU – Armed Response Unit.
ARV – Armed Response Vehicle.
ASP – Extendable Metal Baton.
ATT – At This Time. B
B&E – Breaking and entering.
Banged Up – Locked in a prison or police cell.
Big Red Key – A type of battering ram.
Bin – Cell.
BIP – Burglary In Progress.
Black Rat – Traffic Patrol Officer.
Blag – Robbery.
Bleeder – A female officer.
BLO – Borough Liaison Officer.
Blue-on-blue – Accidental shooting or injury of a police officer by a colleague. Also used by NATO armed forces to refer to casualties of so-called ‘friendly fire’.
Blues and Twos – A police vehicle’s lights (“blues”) and siren (“twos” – from two-tone horn).
Body, A – A person.
BOP – Breach Of the Peace.
Brains Department – CID, as referred to by uniformed officers.
BTP – British Transport Police.
Button Mob – Uniformed officers (as referred to by CID). C
CAD – Computer Aided Dispatch (Room).
Caution – A formal warning by the police, used as an alternative to a full prosecution for minor offences ; A statement made to a suspect when they are arrested, informing them of their basic right to silence. Once this has been read, the suspect is said to be “under caution” while being questioned thereafter, and may be reminded of this later.
CCTV – Closed-Circuit Television.
CIB – Complaints Investigation Bureau.
CID – Criminal Investigation Department.
CIS – Crime Information System.
Civvies – Police officers wearing civilian clothes.
CO – Central Operations.
CO19 – The Metropolitan Police’s Central Operations Specialist Firearms Command.
Code 99 – Tea break, named for the a British supermarket chain’s ’99’ brand of tea.
Corres – Correspondence and other paperwork.
Cough – To confess.
CPS – Crown Prosecution Service.
CPT – Child Protection Team.
CrimInt – Criminal Intelligence.
CRIS – Crime Report Information System.
CS spray – An immobilising spray used against suspects.
CSE – Crime Scene Examiner.
CSG – Crime Support Group.
CSU – Community Safety Unit. D
D&D – Drunk and Disorderly.
Dancers – To run away.
DC – Detective Constable.
DCI – Detective Chief Inspector.
DI – Detective Inspector.
DIC – Drunk In Charge (of a vehicle).
DIP – Drunk In Public.
Dipper – A pickpocket.
DMV – Dead Motor Vehicle.
DPS – Directorate of Professional Standards.
Drum – A house.
DS – Detective Sergeant.
DSE – Divisional Scene Examiner.
DVU – Domestic Violence Unit. E
Equipped / Going equipped – In possession of equipment (for example, tools, weapons, masks, gloves, etc.) with intent to commit a crime, especially a burglary or robbery.
ESSO – Every Saturday and Sunday Off.
ETA – Expected Time of Arrival. F
Factory – A police station.
FATACC / Fat’Ac – Fatal Accident.
Fence – A person who buys and sells stolen.
Filth – Derogatory term for the police used by criminals and others.
FLO – Family Liaison Officer.
FME – Forensics Medical Examiner. G
GBH – Grievous Bodily Harm.
Going Up The Road – Refers to Crown Court.
GP – General Purpose (used for unmarked vehicle).
Grass – An informant, or the act of informing on someone. H
Handling – Handling Stolen Goods.
Have It On Your Toes – To run away.
HOCR – Home Office Counting Rules
HOLMES – Home Office Large and Major Enquiry System, a computer system for major incidents.
HORTI – A request to produce driving documents derived from form HORT/1 (aka a ‘Producer’). I
IBO – Integrated Borough Operations (Suite).
IC – Identification Codes.
IC1 – Used to describe an individual of white skinned European appearance.
IC2 – Used to describe an individual of dark skinned European appearance.
IC3 – Used to describe an individual of black Caribbean, black African, or black ‘other’ appearance.
IC4 – Used to describe an individual of Asian appearance (in the UK this refers to people from the Indian subcontinent, such as Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan).
IC5 – Used to describe an individual of Chinese, Japanese, or other South-east Asian appearance.
IC6 – Used to describe an individual of Arabian, Egyptian, or North African appearance.
IC9 – Unknown.
ID – Identification.
Index – Vehicle registration number.
India 91 – A traffic helicopter.
India 99 – A police helicopter.
Insp. – A police inspector.
IR – Information Room (also see MP).
IRB – Incident Report Book (also used for arrests).
IRTC – Injury Road Traffic Collision.
IRV – Incident Response Vehicle. J
Job – A crime, especially a robbery
Job, The – Working with the police service
Junkie – Drug addict K
K9 – Dog Unit. L
Lag – A prison inmate.
LEO – Local Enforcement Officer.
LIO – Local Intelligence Officer. M
M2MP – Full call sign for main set channel for Information Room.
MISPER – A missing person.
MIT – Major incident team.
MOE – Method Of Entry (polite euphemism for a battering ram).
MP – Metropolitan Police information room (Scotland Yard).
MSS – Message Switching System. N
NCPA – No Cause for Police Action.
NCS – National Crime Squad (aka ‘the British FBI’).
NDIU – National Drugs Intelligence Unit.
NDP – Notice to Detained Persons.
NFA – No Further Action; No Fixed Abode.
NIB – National Identification Bureau.
Nick – To arrest someone.
Nick, The – Police station.
NOK – Next Of Kin.
Nondescript – An Observation vehicle (or ‘Nondy’).
Nonce – Sex offender, especially one guilty of underage or child sex offences – also be used as a general insult.
NSPIS – National Strategy for Police Information Systems, a computer system for the managing of resources.
NSY – New Scotland Yard. O
OB – Occurrence Book.
OBBO – Observation.
OP – Observation Point.
OPPO – Mate (a partner for specialist tasks).
OSCAR – Call sign for Traffic Control on main set.
OTS – Over The Side (having an affair). P
PAAOTCO – Please Ask An Officer To Call On.
PACE – Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984; Act of parliament providing a core framework of police powers in England and Wales and safeguards around stop and search, arrest, detention, investigation, identification and interviewing detainees.
Panda – Non-pursuit police car.
Paranoid woman syndrome – Where a complainant alleging harassment is mistaken about the behaviour of another person because they have read more into that behaviour than was reasonable.
PARS – Particulars of an occurrence.
PC – Police Constable.
PCSO – Police Community Support Officer (a civilian uniformed non-warranted officer); In Scotland, a Police Custody and Security Officer.
Pimp – Someone living off earnings from prostitution.
PIT – Precision Immobilisation Technique Manoeuvre (vehicle debilitation technique).
Plonk – Women Police Officer.
PNC – Police National Computer.
PolAcc – Police Accident.
POLCOL – Police Collision.
POLSA – Police Search Advisor.
POLSTA – Police Station.
Ponce – Someone living off earnings from prostitution – used also as a derogatory term of insult.
PR – Police/Personal Radio.
Process – Anything to do with reporting and logging an arrest or offence.
Producer – A notice issued to a driver when a police officer has asked to see driving documents and the driver does not have them present. Usually issued after the driver is stopped for minor traffic offence(s). Officially, the form is known as a HORT/1 notice. Once a HORT/1 has been issued, the driver has seven days to produce the required documents at their elected police station. Failing to do so can lead to prosecution.
PT17 – (Armed T.S.G.) Former name of SO19 (CO19).
PWITS – Possession With Intent To Supply. Q
Q Car – Undercover unit with blue lights and sirens. R
RCU – Road Crime Unit.
Refs – Canteen break(s).
Ringer – A car made up of parts from different stolen cars, or that has otherwise had its identity changed.
RTA – Road Traffic Accident.
RTC – Road Traffic Collision.
Rule 43 – Segregation in prison (now known as Rule 45). This is for the safety of prisoners considered vulnerable – sex offenders, mentally ill, grasses, those with in-prison debts, convicted police officers or prison staff, etc.
Run In – A yard where stolen goods and/or vehicles are stored. S
S Call – A call to police that is graded as ‘soon response’.
Sarge – Sergeant.
SC – Special Constable.
SCD – Specialist Crime Directorate.
SCG – Serious Crime Group.
Sgt. – Sergeant.
Shout – Call-out, an incident put out over the radio.
Skip – Sergeant.
Slag – Criminal, offender.
Snout – Informant.
SO – Specialist Operations.
SOCA – Serious and Organised Crime Agency.
SOCO – Scenes Of Crime Officer; a forensic crime scene examiner.
SPG – Special Patrol Group (now abolished).
Spin – Search.
Stretch – Prison sentence.
Superstars – CID (as referred to by uniformed officers). T
T Call – An urgent call to police that is graded as Immediate Response.
TADA or TDA – Theft of a motor vehicle. Abbreviation for “Taking and Driving Away”. Since superseded in England and Wales by the term TWOC.
TAG – Tactical Aid Group.
TC – Traffic Collision.
TDA – Taking and Driving Away.
TFU – Tactical Firearms Unit.
The Big House – Crown Court
TI – Trainee Investigator.
TIU – Telecoms Intelligence Unit.
TOA – Time of Arrival.
Toerag – Mild form of abuse for someone considered to be useless or worthless. Derived from a nineteenth-century term referring to the strips of torn cloth that convicts wrapped around their feet to use as ‘prison socks’.
Tom – A prostitute.
Tooled up – Carrying a weapon – especially a firearm – with intent to commit a crime.
Trojan Unit – Armed Police.
TSG – Territorial Support Group.
TWOC – Illegal removal of a vehicle. Abbreviation for “Taking Without Owner’s Consent”. This term has replaced the former TADA/TDA in England and Wales, as TWOCking can apply to the taking of any vehicle, and does not necessarily need to involve the intent to permanently deprive the owner of it (theft). Came to prominence in the 1990s with the rise of joyriding.
U/K – Unknown. V
VDRS – Vehicle Defects Rectification Scheme.
VIN – Vehicle Identification Number.
VRN – Vehicle Registration Number.
VSS – Victim Support Scheme. W
W – A woman.
WDC – Woman Detective Constable.
WDS – Woman Detective Sergeant.
Wheels – A motor vehicle.
WINQ – Warrant Inquiry.
WOFF – Write Off – a vehicle or other property believed to be a total loss for insurance purposes.
Woodentops – Uniform officers (as referred to by CID).
WPC – Woman Police Constable. Y
Yard, The – New Scotland Yard.