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Jargon Buster Directory  

The Central Source for all Jargon

Government - Police Force

Like any other government backed department, the police force is crammed to the gunnells with police force jargon.

As it is linked to the legal profession the police force jargon is pretty much comprehensive covering all aspects of the police force.

Police jargon is also used very effectively to confuse the public when they carry out their duties.  Anyone stating government legal acronyms at you must surely know what they are doing and be correct in their assessments musn't they? Well it does sound good when fried off the tongue at 300 miles an hour.

Police jargon is in a category all of its own - complicated and designed to confuse.


Police Force Jargon

Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)

ACPO was set up over 50 years ago so that work in developing policing policies could be undertaken in one place, on behalf of the service as a whole, rather than in 44 separate forces.

ACPO's members are police officers who hold the rank of Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable or Assistant Chief Constable, or their equivalents, in the forty four forces of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It also includes national police agencies and certain other forces in the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands and certain senior non-police staff. There are presently 280 members of ACPO.

The Chief Constables and equivalent Metropolitan and City of London ranks meet four times a year as the Chief Constable's Council. This endorses the business strategies for the Association, manage the business involved in developing policing policy.

Architectural Liaison Officers (ALOs)

ALOs advise colleagues, planners, architects, designers, builders, developers and other agencies how buildings and their surroundings can be designed to prevent crime. The post typifies the force’s problem-solving approach to policing.

ALOs can advise people who are building, buying or renting sites. They can also help to improve existing sites where poor design might support criminal activity.

'Secured by Design' has been developed by ACPO, in conjunction with building and design professionals, the government and insurers. It involves the presentation of awards to developers, landlords, architects, housing associations and local authorities whose building or refurbishment work incorporates a number of crime-beating measures. The practice of 'Secured by Design' is central to work of an ALO. Research has shown that buildings with a Secured by Design certificate are up to 77 per cent less likely to be broken into.


In 2003 the force introduced the Autolock baton. The 22-inch baton replaced the 21-inch Arnold straight baton and is carried by most operational officers. The change was made to allow easier and safer carrying by officers whilst engaged in vehicle patrols.

The batons were introduced after extensive research and evaluation. Staffordshire Police is among the first forces to move to the Autolock. The force looked closely at other forces' experiences, and the baton has been evaluated by the Police Scientific Branch.

Each baton will be issued with a 'Hindi Cap' - a retention device named after the American officer who invented it. It has been designed to stop the baton being pulled, or slipping, from an officer's hand. The Autolock can be carried collapsed or fully extended and has a positive locking mechanism.

Best Value

The Local Government Act 1999 requires local authorities, including the police, to review their entire organisation over a period of five years. The aim is to ensure that money spent by local authorities provides the best possible service.

But quality is every bit as important as value for money. The Best Value regime acknowledges that cheapest is not always best. It challenges police forces to re-examine every aspect of their organisational structures to find more efficient ways of providing good quality policing to the public.

Best Value is about continuous improvement – and these improvements need to be achieved against a backdrop of the government’s requirement for police forces to demonstrate annual efficiency savings of two per cent.


An estimated 40 per cent of all 999 calls - more than 67,000 - made to Staffordshire Police last year were not real emergencies. That’s 1,787 hours – a startling 74 days (or fifth of a year) – lost taking inappropriate calls when real emergencies could be waiting to get through. Many calls are enquiries about business services such as glaziers, locksmiths or plumbers.

In October 2002 Staffordshire Police formed a working partnership with a telephone information service called Boing. When callers ring the force with non-police matters they are generally referred to Boing.

Boing can be accessed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on the free-phone number 0800 587 0548 or on the internet at www.boinguk.com

Casualty Bureau

A Casualty bureau is opened during a major emergency, such as a train crash, in which several people have been injured or killed. The bureau collates information about people who are, or may have been involved in the incident. It is split into two parts - a computerised section and a call-taking room.

The computerised side is staffed, in the main, by force employees who have volunteered their help in times of major emergency. They input information from places such as hospitals, evacuation centres and temporary mortuaries.

Information taken over the phone in the call-handling section is also fed into the system, which is done mainly by police staff. Calls from members of the public who are trying to find out about relatives or friends who may have been involved in the incident are processed here.

Community Action Teams (CATs)

CATs are led by Local Policing Unit (LPUs) Inspectors and community beat sergeants, and consist of community beat officers (CBOs). CBOs are named officers with responsibility for a specific area, made up of one or more council wards. These officers provide visible foot patrol to our and are a key part of Staffordshire's crime fighting force.

There are more than 220 CBOs in Staffordshire, who know their particular 'patch' and the people living and working there, who in turn know how to contact their CBO. They will concentrate on establishing community contacts and have a problem solving approach to reduce crime and disorder.

Community Safety

Community safety is about addressing the issues of crime, fear of crime and anti-social behaviour and issues that disrupt quality of life. The Crime and Disorder Act (see next entry), which made local authorities and police jointly responsible for these areas, highlighted the need to work in partnership with other agencies.

Community safety is the primary objective for designated partnerships inspectors working within the force and its four divisional Operational Management Units (OMUs). By focusing primarily on locations and victims – such as youth and education, drugs liaison, domestic incident, community support, architectural liaison, Neighbourhood Watch and crime prevention – specialist OMU officers are able to concentrate on problem-solving policing. This means working with other agencies to provide comprehensive, long-term solutions to community safety issues.

Crime and Disorder Act

The Crime and Disorder Act (1998) places new obligations on the police, local authorities, police authorities, health authorities and probation committees (amongst others) to co-operate in the development and implementation of a strategy for tackling crime and disorder in their area.

The Act aims to empower local people to take control of the fight against crime and disorder. It does not prescribe in detail what the agenda for local partnership should be, or what structures need to be in place to deliver this agenda. Involving the wider community – for example the voluntary sector, business, residents groups and young people is crucial to the success of the Act.

The legislation is, by design, flexible to allow for local freedom to reflect local circumstances. Its fundamental premise is that people living and working in an area are best placed to identify the problems facing them and the solutions available locally to solve these problems.


Crimestoppers is a freephone nationwide telephone number, 0800 555 111, that enables people to give information about crime and criminals to the police with complete confidence of anonymity. People use Crimestoppers for many reasons. Some do not want to be seen talking to the police, or to be called as a witness in court. Many simply feel threatened and in fear of crime and criminals.

If information given to Crimestoppers results in an arrest and charge, callers are entitled to a cash reward. Again, complete anonymity is guaranteed and the exchange takes place in safe circumstances.

Crimestoppers was established in Staffordshire in 1996 and during the first full year of operation in 1997 the hotline led to the arrest of 48 people. Since then the growth of the hotline has been tremendous with calls totalling 3339 at the end of 2002, arrests at 236, property and drugs recovered £138,000 and the recovery of nine firearms.

CS Incapacitant Spray

Following extensive trials in the operational use of CS aerosol incapacitant sprays, commissioned by the Home Office, Chief Constable John Giffard took the decision to issue them, as personal protection, to police officers and the Special Constabulary from May 1997.

The device consists of a pressurised aluminium container, housed in a robust plastic discharging. The canister contains five per cent CS irritant, suspended in a solution of Methyl Isobutyl Ketone (MIBK), with a nitrogen propellant. It is not a gas.

CS is a sensory irritant. The five per cent solution is believed to be the minimum concentration, which will fulfil the purpose of the equipment; to minimise a person's capacity for resistance - without causing unnecessarily long discomfort. The aerosol liquid form makes it possible to direct a jet at an individual, which can cause peeling, redness and itching.

Gold/Silver/Bronze Control

Gold, silver and bronze controls form the nationally agreed levels of supervision for an incident - pre-planned and spontaneous. They are levels of command structure and can be run independently or together depending on the gravity of the incident.

The system shortens the chain of command and communication and allows those in control to oversee the situation, react and deploy appropriate resources. It is not rank based. However; gold controls are traditionally overseen by an officer of ACPO level and silver by a superintendent. The colour coding signifies the importance of the incident. For example, gold control is set up for strategic reasons, silver for tactical and bronze for operational.

Graded Response

Calls for assistance from the police are not evenly spread across the day or the force area and they cover requests for relatively trivial advice to the most serious major incidents. Frequently the number of incidents requiring attention far exceeds the number of officers available to deal with them. Last year we answered 2.9 million telephone calls almost 150,000 of which were 999's. More than a third of a million incidents were dealt with or about a thousand a day.

Graded response was introduced in April 1999 to properly prioritise the ever-increasing demand on police services. It involves the assessment and prioritisation of calls by OMUs in each of the four divisions.

By reducing the number of calls requiring police attendance, officers have more time to deal with issues properly and resolve the problems that are causing them. It also ensures that dangerous and life-threatening crime gets the fastest possible response.


As the strategic centre for the force, it is the role of headquarters to predict, anticipate and prepare the organisation for future developments. It is here that major external issues are examined and strategies prepared in order to manage them.

With the myriad of responsibilities of a large organisation, force headquarters must ensure that the organisation maintains its focus on providing a professional service to the public, whilst meeting the increasing demands on its services, within a finite budget.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC)

For well over a century HM Inspectors of Constabulary (HMIs) have been charged with examining and improving the efficiency of the Police Service in England and Wales, with the first HMIs appointed under the provisions of the County and Borough Police Act 1856. In 1962, the Royal Commission on the Police formally acknowledged their contribution to policing.

Until recently, selection was made exclusively from the ranks of the most senior officers serving in the provincial forces and the Metropolitan Police. However, in October 1993, and in accordance with the Citizen's Charter principle that Inspectorates should include a "lay element", two HMIs were appointed from non-police backgrounds. This development underlined the Inspectorate's commitment to objectivity, independence and openness.

Home Office

The Home Office is the Government department responsible for internal affairs in England and Wales. The purpose of the Home Office is to work with individuals and communities to build a safe, just and tolerant society enhancing opportunities for all and in which rights and responsibilities go hand in hand, and the protection and the security of the public are maintained and enhanced.

The Home Office is responsible for: Community Policy, Crime Reduction, Criminal Justice, Drugs Prevention, Immigration and Nationality, Passports, Race Equality and Diversity, and Research and Statistics.

Home Office Large Major Enquiry System (HOLMES)

HOLMES plays a central role in major crime investigations, such as murders, rapes or complex frauds.

The computerised system is used to co-ordinate the large amount of information which is gathered during an investigation so that it can be easily researched, retrieved and compared.

Police forces across the country use HOLMES to search for similarities among cases, potentially saving hours of investigative time.

Identification Suite (ID Suite)

The force's purpose-built ID suite is situated next to Burton police station. It is used to stage identity parades, which can be held at the request of investigating officers or suspects in cases where a suspect’s identity is an issue.

Since April the force has been using a new powerful tool in the fight against crime. VIPER (Video Identification Parade Electronic Recording), developed by West Yorkshire Police, has resulted in a large increase in the number of identification procedures. It has almost entirely replaced live parades and has been made possible by a change in the law allowing video evidence to be used much earlier in the legal process. Video ID is not only cheaper than traditional parades but also less time consuming to organise.

Instead of watching a physical line-up of suspects, victims watch a video compilation from a database of suitable suspects. The force has access to a database containing over 6,000 video pictures of people of different ages, ethnic groups and with different physical characteristics. It also allows police to take the parade to the witness or victim, offering them greater protection and convenience.

The building has separate entry points and waiting rooms for witnesses, suspects and parade volunteers, to avoid any of the parties meeting and, potentially, causing the collapse of a case.

Incident Management Units (IMUs)

IMUs are crucial to force's reactive emergency and priority policing response. Road collisions, robberies, assaults and fights are handled by these divisional teams as a first-line response to the people of Staffordshire, directing patrol work for crime and disorder reduction.

A patrol inspector and a team of patrol sergeants manage each IMU shift. Their role compliments the work of beat officers and proactive teams - allowing them to concentrate on problem solving initiatives and arresting criminals operating in our midst. Each of Staffordshire's four territorial divisions has five shifts of IMU officers covering 24 hours a day.

Many of the officers are advanced drivers and trained in pursuit procedures. Others are authorised to use firearms and can be called to provide an armed response when required. Some have recently been trained to capture video evidence in specially equipped vans that can be sent to flash points to film public disorder.

Integrated Reduction Units

Integrated reduction units work alongside public service desks to manage the demand on police services and focus resources. They adopt a problem-solving approach by concentrating on three key areas: victim, offender and location. By addressing all three areas rather than treating each offence in isolation, the force can make a major impact on crime.

Integrated reduction units work closely with Local Policing Units (see entry below), other police departments and community partners to focus on identified trends and crime patterns.

Intelligence-Led Policing

The ever-increasing call on police services demands a more sophisticated approach to tackling crime. Intelligence-led policing is the way forward. Through ‘crime pattern analysis’ and the targeting of known active criminals, the force aims to frustrate the offenders at every turn.

The force is aware that a relatively small number of offenders are responsible for huge numbers of crimes, which spoil the quality of life for many people. This approach, combined with local policing, will enable the force to improve its service to victims and vulnerable groups in the community who suffer the greatest proportion of crime.

Local Policing Units (LPUs)

Most policing is provided by officers working within LPUs. These small areas, each headed by an inspector in charge of some 50 police officers, provide a service that is visible and accountable to the local community. This locally based style gives officers ownership of issues and problems in their adopted areas and helps build strong relationships with the community.

Neighbourhood Watch

Neighbourhood Watch is one of the largest crime initiatives in the fight to reduce and prevent crime. The four main aims of the scheme are to:

reduce crime and the fear of crime

encourage residents to help the police in the reduction and detection of crime

develop a community spirit among people living in a Neighbourhood Watch area

encourage greater contact between the public and the police.

Staffordshire Police was the second force in the country to introduce Neighbourhood Watch. The scheme has been in existence since 1982 and now incorporates 172,257 homes.

It involves people of all ages and backgrounds. Schemes have been set up on housing estates, suburban streets, in blocks of high-rise flats and in small rural villages and can be large, covering, for example, most of a housing estate or might just involve a few houses.

Schemes are generally run by volunteer co-ordinators that work with local committees that meet regularly to target local problems.


The police, as a stand-alone agency, can make a limited impact on crime reduction. By developing partnerships with the community, the force can create a formidable crime fighting team.

Community partnership means involving people at every level, be it through local authorities, industry, voluntary groups or residents’ associations. The force aims to forge strong and enduring relationships with key players. The Crime and Disorder Act has provided even greater opportunities for success.

Police National Computer (PNC)

PNC gives police forces immediate access to selected records 24-hours a day. It carries details of the current keepers of all vehicles registered with the DVLA, and of vehicles which are of interest to the police, eg because they are stolen.

The system also holds details of people wanted by the police, missing people, people with convictions recorded nationally, and disqualified drivers. It can be searched using descriptions of people or vehicles, as well as names or registration numbers.

Problem-Solving Policing

The force recognises that it must do more than react to crime and disorderly behaviour. It must look beyond the immediate problem to identify and tackle the causes. This problem-solving approach will not only improve the quality of life in the county, but will break the cycle of increasing demand for police intervention.

Police Standards Unit

The Police Standards Unit, set up by the Home Secretary in July 2001, forms a vital part of the Government’s police reform agenda. They help to deliver the Government’s commitment to raise standards and improve operational performance in the police, and in crime reduction generally, to maintain and enhance public satisfaction with policing in their area.

The focus of their activities is to measure and compare Basic Command Unit and local partnership performance, understand the underlying causes of performance variations, identify and disseminate good practice and support those who need assistance.

Public Service Desks (PSDs)

Public service desks were created in the force re-structuring of 1999 to provide a quality service to the public in all matters that don’t immediately require a police officer to attend – releasing officers to concentrate on proactive problem-solving policing rather than reactive minor matters.

The work of PSDs includes crime recording, minor crime investigations alongside the role of a public help desk and are staffed by police officers and police staff whose skills and experience are pooled together.

There are four PSDs around the county, at Burton-upon-Trent, Cannock, Hanley and Leek. Their primary duty is to manage non-urgent duties within their respective divisions. However, they will take calls from neighbouring areas to minimise waiting time for members of the public.

In some cases a PSD call taker can deal with a crime in its entirety over the telephone. On other occasions, it is necessary for a police officer to attend the scene. The officer will then be able to report the details directly to the PSD while they are still with the victim.

All four PSDs have investigators whose role is to deal with more lengthy enquiries such as benefit and cheque frauds. They build the case up before a police officer takes it on. The PSD also has an archive section and when enquiries are concluded they are quality checked to ensure that the investigation has met recognised standards. The section also produces statistical information required by the Home Office.

Rigid Cuffs

Loose-link handcuffs used by officers were replaced with Hiatts rigid cuffs in the mid-90s, sometimes referred to as quick cuffs.

These American-style cuffs were trialled by several forces before their adoption nationwide.

All Staffordshire officers are trained in the use of rigid cuffs which make arrests quicker and easier in situations when offenders resist arrest. They allow more control of the offender, which reduces the injuries to both offenders and police officers. The previous loose-link cuffs, linked with a chain, allowed considerable movement by offenders attempting to resist arrest.

Service Delivery Strategy (SDS)

In 1998, following one of the biggest public consultation exercises ever undertaken by the force, plans were announced to give Staffordshire an even more locally-based police service.

The reorganisation, known as SDS, took account of people's wishes to see a more visible, localised style of policing. The requirements of the Crime and Disorder Bill were also considered, as well as the force's financial situation.

The force moved from ten to four divisions (Chase, North Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent and Trent Valley), made up of LPUs.

Senior Investigating Officer (SIO)

The SIO takes overall command of a major criminal enquiry. Depending on the nature of the enquiry, an SIO will be an officer of detective inspector, detective chief inspector or detective superintendent rank.

They are responsible for the control and direction of an enquiry, and take ultimate responsibility for the setting up and running of incident rooms and ensuring that there is appropriate accommodation, equipment and manpower. The principal SIO oversees the various investigations of all SIOs, taking place at any one time.

Special Constabulary

Special constables work part-time on a voluntary basis to support the regular police force in ensuring that the demands of local communities and force objectives are met. They have the same legal powers as their regular colleagues, who act as supervisors, and provide a supporting role.

Specials are a vital link between the police and community. The core function of special constables in Staffordshire is policing by being local, visible and problem solving in style. In particular, delivering reassurance policing by being local, visible and problem solving in style. This is the core function of special constables throughout Staffordshire.

They perform a variety of roles including walking the beat with regular officers, offering crime prevention advice, working with local school children and providing a strong visible presence at events such as town fairs, the county show and football matches. Sometimes they are called to assist with more serious incidents such as burglaries, road accidents and public disturbances.

Sympathetic Interview Suites - (Formerly known as rape suites)

Sympathetic interview suites are interview rooms located away from police stations. They are designed to be less daunting than the formal surrounding of a police station for victims of violent and sexual offences.

They provide a comforting environment and help people relax while giving statements in writing or on video. Video recording equipment is fitted in all the suites to take evidence from children and teenagers and can save them from the trauma of appearing in court.

The suites – located at Burton, Tamworth, Cheslyn Hay, Stafford and Blythe Bridge – also have medical rooms where the victims can be examined by a doctor.

Targeted policing

Targeted policing is an intelligence-led approach to tackling crime and its causes. It allows officers to be used more efficiently and effectively by using intelligence information and crime pattern analysis to target prolific offenders and crime hotspots. This approach helps reduce crime by tackling persistent problems rather than reacting to one-off issues. 





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