Director Sidney Hayers used the phrase as the title of his 1972 crime drama All Coppers Are..., and the Dictionary of Catchphrases states that while the initialism — later seen in 1977 by a Newcastle journalist written on the walls of a prison cell — may be no older than the 1970s, the full phrase may date back as far as the 1920s. The 4-Skins, a British Oi!punk band, popularized the initialism A.C.A.B. in their 1980s song of the same name.
Brian Stableford's 2009 Exotic Encounters states that "many years ago" during a fad for wearing ACAB shirts, a British youth was arrested for incitement to riot for wearing one, and ineffectively claimed the shirt stood for "All Canadians Are Bastards".
On 7 January 2011, three Ajax football fans in the Netherlands were fined for wearing T-shirts with the numbers 1312 printed on them, the numbers standing for "ACAB" by assigning each letter a numeric value (1=A, 2=B, 3=C).
In Germany both "ACAB" and "1312" have been deemed insults by state courts.
On 4 July 2015, a girl in Alicante, Spain, was fined for wearing a T-shirt with the acronym "ACAB" printed on it.
On 22 May 2016, a 34-year-old woman in Madrid, Spain, was charged under Article 37 of the Citizen Safety Law for carrying a bag displaying the acronym "ACAB" accompanied by the words "All Cats Are Beautiful". The charges were dropped 3 days later.