Police Jargon

You will probably understand many of the police jargon and technical terms, but if not, they hopefully will be listed here.  Some of the words are/were in common British use, not just by the police, but have been included for the benefit of overseas readers, who cannot be expected to know them.  If you find anything confusing in one of the novels, that’s not shown here or on the dialect pages, please contact me to ask about it and if appropriate I will add it to the list.  Similarly, former or serving police officers are most welcome to remind me of any relevant 1970s/80s abbreviations I’ve omitted.

A.B.H.                               Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm (see also “G.B.H.”)

B.B.                                  The radio call-sign for Cumbria Police Headquarters (pronounced ‘Bee-Bee’)

Blues & Twos                  Driving to an emergency, with blue flashing lights and two-tone sirens in use

Bobby/Bobbies                The well-known nickname of British police officers, coined from the name of     .                                    their founder, Sir Robert Peel.

C.I.C.                                Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle (a relatively major hospital)

C.I.D.                                Criminal Investigations Department (the detectives)

C.I.D.6 & 6A                     The forms used when a crime was reported, and later solved

C.J.A.                                Criminal Justice Act.  These initials were often used to denote a ‘witness’            .                                    statement and the relevant form, as opposed to a ‘statement under caution’.

Collar                               Arrest (also see “nick”)

Con. & Use                       The Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations

Cough                              Admission of guilt

Domestic                         A domestic dispute – often violent

Due Care                         Short for ‘driving without due care and attention’, a specific offence.

Due Consideration         Short for ‘driving without due consideration for other road users’.

Fixed Penalty                  A Fixed Penalty Ticket affixed to an unattended vehicle or given to the                         .                          driver for certain parking or vehicle offences

Foot down (“Get your…”)    –   To go fast or work fast (in common usage, not just police)

Foxtrot                            The tragic one: somebody is dead. (i.e. the phonetic for “F”, used for “fatal”)

G.B.H.                              Assault Occasioning Grievous Bodily Harm (see also “A.B.H.”)

Going Equipped              Short for ‘going equipped to steal’, usually relating to the carrying of tools to         .                                    facilitate breaking into a building or a vehicle

H.G.V.                              Heavy Goods Vehicle – e.g. articulated wagons, or semi-tractor-trailers

H.O.R.T./1                        A form obliging a driver to produce his driving documents at a police station

H.O.R.T./2                       A form from the stipulated police station, showing details for the H.O.R.T./1

Jetstream                         It was then the code word for an aeroplane crash

Judges’ Rules                   The legal rules governing the collection of written and verbal evidence

Lift/ed                              Steal/stole (also see “nick/ed”)

M.O.                                 Modus operandi (Latin) A criminal’s method of committing the crime

Malice Aforethought       An essential component in a conviction for charge of murder

Mens rea                           (Latin) A ‘guilty mind’ – a necessary element for conviction in many crimes

N.I.P.                                A Notice of Intended Prosecution (verbal, at the incident and/or written, later)

Nick/ed                            Slang name for the police station, for being arrested, or to steal. (See: “collar”)

Phonetic (Alphabet)        Words used for clarity when spelling. The first letter of the word is the key.

Prima facie                       (Latin) Enough clear evidence to take a case to court (pron. prime-a-fay-shee)

Refs                                  Short for “refreshments” – an officer’s meal break and the room that’s used

R.T.A.                               Road Traffic Accident (now more appropriately an RTC – “Collision”)

Rozzers                            Another nickname for British police officers. It allegedly originated in the            .                                       Northumberland coastal village of Seahouses, where in the 189os brothers                 .                         Paul Ross and John Ross were the village’s local police constables and were                                        .  known to locals as the ‘Rosses’, which later became ‘Rozzers’.

Section 40                       An official complaint against a police officer

SOCO                                Scenes of Crime Officer/s (also used at serious and fatal road crash scenes)

Sub judice                         (Latin) It is inappropriate and in some circumstances illegal to comment             .                                publicly on cases that are under consideration for court or are on trial.                   .                                  (pronounced: sub-judy-say)

T.26                                  A form affixed to unattended vehicles for offences such as obstructing the          .                                     highway or footway and requiring the driver to report to a nearby police station

Tax Disc                           See “V.E.L. – Vehicle Excise Licence”

Tea Leaf                           A thief (from London’s Cockney rhyming slang)

Ten-Nine                         Radio call for “officer needs urgent assistance”

Toe-rag                            A disreputable person or troublemaker (in common usage, not just police)

Traffic                               Traffic Patrol Department (later became “Roads Policing Unit”)

T.W.O.C.                            Taking (a motor vehicle) Without Consent (pronounced as a word: “Twoc”)        .                                      Because ‘taken’ motor vehicles are usually abandoned, the taking does not       .                                    meet the legal definition of a ‘theft’, hence the existence of this offence.

V.E.L.                                Vehicle Excise Licence, more usually known as a ‘tax disc’. A three-inch,              .                                coloured disc, displayed inside the bottom, left-hand corner of a vehicle’s              .                                  windscreen to prove that that the annual taxation fee had been paid for that           .                                   year. Quite often used on the wrong vehicle or forged, so always worth a check.

Welly (Give it some…)     To go fast or work fast (in common usage, not just police)


(To be expanded…)