Chief superintendent

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Chief superintendent is a senior rank in police forces organised on the British model.

United Kingdom[edit]

Modern British rank insignia

In the British police, a chief superintendent (Ch Supt; or colloquially "chief super") is senior to a superintendent and junior to an assistant chief constable (or a commander in the Metropolitan Police or City of London Police).

The highest rank below Chief Officer level, chief superintendents were first introduced into the Metropolitan Police in 1949, when superintendents were regraded to the new rank, and have since been adopted in all British police forces. However, the rank had been used previously to this in some forces in certain circumstances. For example, in 1920 the deputy head of Shropshire Constabulary bore the official title of "chief superintendent and deputy chief constable"[1] and in 1927 Lancashire Constabulary had two chief superintendents who were junior to the assistant chief constable.[2]

Between 1949 and 1968, chief superintendent was junior to deputy commander in the Metropolitan Police, and between 1953 and 1974 it was immediately senior to superintendent grade I.

Traditionally, chief superintendents have commanded divisions, but since widespread reorganisation in the 1990s many forces have abandoned divisions for different forms of organisation and the areas commanded by chief superintendents vary widely from force to force. In most forces, however, they still command the largest territorial subdivisions, often known generally as Basic Command Units (BCUs). The rank of chief superintendent was abolished on 1 April 1995 following recommendations made in the Sheehy Report, later confirmed by the Police Act 1996, although officers already holding the rank could continue to hold it. The Home Office officially reintroduced the rank of chief superintendent on 1 January 2002 under the terms of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001.

The senior detective and commander of the Criminal Investigation Department in most forces is a detective chief superintendent (DCS) (although in the Metropolitan Police, a DCS may only command a branch of the CID and the head of CID in each district was formerly also a DCS) and the rank of chief superintendent may also be used by the commanders of other headquarters departments.

The rank badge, worn on the epaulettes, is a bath star ("pip") below a crown, the same rank badge worn by a lieutenant-colonel in the British Army. Metropolitan Police chief superintendents wore a crown over two stars until the abolition of the rank of superintendent grade I in 1974, when they changed to the latter's rank badge, which was already worn by chief superintendents elsewhere in the country.

A chief superintendent's annual salary starts at £74,394 and rises to £78,636 (as of September 2010).[3]


In the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a chief superintendent wears two stars below a crown, equivalent to a Colonel.


In the Garda Síochána, the Republic of Ireland's national police force, the rank of chief superintendent is between superintendent and assistant commissioner. Chief superintendents usually command divisions, while detective chief superintendents head the various investigative branches.

The rank marking is two red / gold pips over a red / gold bar

Hong Kong[edit]

In the Hong Kong Police Force, a chief superintendent of police (CSP) ranks between a senior superintendent (SSP) and an assistant commissioner of police (ACP). A CSP is usually a district commander (DC) or a branch/bureau commander (e.g. Narcotics Bureau). The commandant of the police tactical unit is also a CSP.


In Australia, a chief superintendent is senior to the rank of superintendent in all the Australian police forces excepting the Western Australia Police, where the rank of assistant commissioner is used in the place of chief superintendent; it is junior to the rank of commander (Victoria Police, South Australia Police) and the rank of assistant commissioner (New South Wales Police, Queensland Police). Officers wear the insignia of a crown over two Bath Stars (or in the case of the New South Wales Police, a crown over two stars) the same as a Colonel in the army.


  1. ^ Civilian War Honours, The Times, 31 March 1920
  2. ^ Wilfred Trubshaw, "The Lancashire Constabulary: Eighty Years ago and To-day", Police Journal, 1:3, 1928
  3. ^