A collar number, also known as a shoulder number, force identification number (FIN) or occasionally as force number (although this can also refer to ID number of a force itself), identifies police officers, police community support officers (PCSO), Special Constables (SC or SPC) and some police staff in UK police forces. Although now displayed on epaulettes (i.e. on the shoulder), it is still commonly referred to as a collar number. Although most forces issue a collar number to all warranted officers, regardless of role, only uniformed officers of the ranks constable and sergeant actually display the numbers.
In most forces it is simply a one- to five-digit number, but in larger forces a letter code (also known as a division call sign) may be added to indicate the officer's base area or unit. In some forces different types of staff (paid ('regular') police officers, special constables, PCSOs and other police staff) are assigned different ranges of numbers, so a person's role can be deduced from the number, but these systems are force specific and there is no national standard.
In France, the wearing of the collar number is compulsory, save a few exceptions, from 1 January 2014.
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City of London
Until recently, collar numbers consisted of a number followed by a single letter to indicate the division (e.g. "PC 123A").
In 1914, the force was reorganised into four divisions, each named after its police station:
Divisional letter Division A Moor Lane B Snow Hill C Bishopsgate D Cloak Lane
Moor Lane Police Station was destroyed in the Blitz in 1940, and A Division was abolished and distributed amongst the three remaining divisions. Cloak Lane Police Station was closed down in 1946, and D Division was transferred to the new Wood Street Police Station. The divisions after 1946 therefore stood at:
Divisional letter Division B Snow Hill C Bishopsgate D Wood Street
In 1984, the force was reduced to two territorial divisions, based at Snow Hill Police Station and Bishopsgate Police Station (still B and C Divisions), together with support divisions, and the divisions subsequently stood at:
Divisional letter Division A Anti-Terrorism & Public Order B Snow Hill C Bishopsgate D Specialist Crime Operations E Professional Development Unit F Economic Crime Department
In February 2009, all the divisions were abolished and the force was divided into directorates (with all patrol officers falling within the new Territorial Policing Directorate, subsequently incorporating certain specialist units and becoming the Uniformed Policing Directorate). All officers' collar numbers were then suffixed by the letters "CP" rather than a divisional letter.
Collar numbers are allocated as follows:
Range Officers 1–149 Sergeants 150–999 Constables 1000–1099 Special Sergeants 1100–1299 Special Constables 2000–2099 PCSOs
A number, followed by one or two letters indicating the station/sector, borough, or unit. Current practice favours use of borough codes rather than station codes (with the borough code generally taken from one of the borough's stations—see below—which can cause confusion).
Divisional area codes are still used to identify the areas themselves, together with the police station and vehicles (if any) nominally covering them, but not officers. So for example QY88 would be a panda car notionally assigned to Kingsbury, though it would actually be based at QD (i.e. Wembley, the nearest operational police station) and be crewed by officers whose collar numbers all contain the letters 'QK' (since they are counted as Brent officers regardless of which station they may happen to be based at).
A one or two digit number denotes a Sergeant (except in larger boroughs like Southwark where some sergeants are allocated three digit numbers), a three digit number denotes a Constable, a four digit number beginning with 5 denotes an officer of the Metropolitan Special Constabulary, unless they're attached to a 'Roads & Transport Policing Command' (RTPC) team, in which case the number will begin with an 8 and a four digit number beginning with 7 denotes a PCSO again unless they are attached to RTPC and they will start with a 6. Confusingly, MPS epaulettes display the letters over the digits, i.e. 81FH (a Sergeant based at Hammersmith) would show FH over 81 on their shoulder, which reads more like FH81 (the call sign of a panda car based there). Ranks above Sergeant do not have collar numbers - officers are identified by name (e.g. Inspector Smith, who may once have been PC 123KG Smith).
An exception to the above is the City of Westminster borough. Westminster has over 1,500 officers therefore a three digit number system is too small. Until late 2009 constables and sergeants had four digit shoulder numbers beginning 1, 2, 3 or 4 (with the leading number signifying which part of the borough you were attached to - 1 Westminster North, 2 Westminster Central, 3 Westminster South or 4 Westminster HQ). With the amalgamation of Westminster Central and South in late 2009 the decision was taken to amalgamate all the shoulder numbers into one numbering system. All new officers joining the borough will be given the first available number and cross division moves will no longer result in the need for a new shoulder number.
Specialist MPS units do not necessarily follow any of the above numbering rules, with both Constables and Sergeants having anything from one to four digits.
All Metropolitan Police officers in uniform below the rank of Inspector are required to have their collar numbers on display at all times. It is increasingly common for higher ranks to display their warrant numbers on their epaulettes in addition to their rank.
Code Specialist unit CC Central Communications Command (CO10) CJ Met Detention (Custody) CO Specialist Crime & Operations (includes Specialist Firearms Command, Mounted Branch, Air Support Unit etc) FRT Forensic Retrieval Team ID Heathrow Airport & London City Airport (now Aviation Security (SO18)) R Royalty Protection Group (SO14) RO Royal Parks MXC Specialist Crime Directorate SO Specialist Operations (includes Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection) L Learning Directorate (training) T Roads and Transport Policing Command - (Merger of ST (Safer Transport) and TD (Traffic) U Territorial Support Group (CO20)
Borough/BCU Sectors SX Barnet SA Barnet, SX Colindale, SF Finchley, SG Golders Green, ST Whetstone RY Bexley RB Belvedere, RY Bexleyheath, RS Sidcup QK Brent QC Chalkhill, QH Harlesden, QK Kilburn, QD Wembley, QL Willesden Green, QY Kingsbury PY Bromley PB Beckenham, PH Biggin Hill, PC Chislehurst, PY Bromley, PN Orpington, PG Penge, PW West Wickham CN Central North Merger of EK (EO Holborn, EK Kentish Town, EW West Hampstead) and NI (NH Holloway, NI Islington) ZD Croydon ZD Croydon, ZN South Norwood, ZY Norbury, ZK Kenley, ZA Addington, ZC Custody XB Ealing XA Acton, XD Ealing, XS Southall EA East Area Merger of KG (KB Barking, KG Dagenham, KK Marks Gate, KW Freshwharf), JI (JB Barkingside, JI Ilford, JN Wanstead, JF Woodford) and KD (KL Collier Row, KA Harold Hill, KC Hornchurch, KM Rainham, KD Romford, KU Upminster, KH Harold Hill Patrol Base) YE Enfield YE Edmonton, YF Enfield North Cluster, YS Southgate West Cluster, YP Edmonton South Cluster (Formerly Ponders end Cluster) RG Greenwich RM Eltham, RG Greenwich, RA Plumstead, RT Thamesmead, RK Westcombe Park, RW Woolwich GD Hackney GH Hackney, GD Shoreditch, GN Stoke Newington FH Hammersmith & Fulham FF Fulham, FH Hammersmith, FS Shepherds Bush YR Haringey YR Hornsey, YM Muswell Hill, YA St Ann's, YT Tottenham, YD Wood Green QA Harrow QE Edgware, QA Harrow, QP Pinner, QW Wealdstone, QS West Street XH Hillingdon XF Harefield, XY Hayes, XH Hillingdon, XN Northwood, XR Ruislip, XE West Drayton TX Hounslow TB Brentford, TC Chiswick, TF Feltham, TX Hounslow BS Kensington & Chelsea BC Chelsea, BD Kensington, BH Notting Hill VK Kingston upon Thames VK Kingston, VN New Malden, VE/VS† Surbiton LX Lambeth LD Brixton, LC Cavendish, LN/LM† Clapham, LG Gipsy Hill, LK Kennington, LS Streatham PL Lewisham PK Brockley, PD Catford, PP Deptford, PL Lewisham, PS Sydenham VW Merton VM Mitcham, VR Morden, VW Wimbledon KF Newham KE East Ham, KF Forest Gate, KN North Woolwich, KW/KO† Plaistow, KS Stratford JI Redbridge JB Barkingside, JI Ilford, JN Wanstead, JF Woodford TW Richmond Upon Thames TR Richmond, TT Teddington, TW Twickenham MD Southwark MC Camberwell, MM Peckham, MR Rotherhithe, MD Southwark, MS Walworth ZT Sutton ZT Sutton, ZW Wallington, ZR Worcester Park HT Tower Hamlets HW Bow, HT Bethnal Green / Whitechapel, HR Brick Lane, HI Isle of Dogs, HH Limehouse, HP Poplar JC Waltham Forest JC Chingford, JL Leyton (closed), JS Leytonstone (closed), JW Walthamstow (closed), JK Walthamstow Market, JP Leyton Custody Centre, JA Waltham Abbey (now in Essex) WW Wandsworth WA Battersea, WL Lavender Hill, WD Tooting, WW/WH Wandsworth (also includes the Putney Sector Office which replaced the previous Putney station which had the code WP †) CW Westminster AD Belgravia, CX Charing Cross, DP Paddington, CD West End Central, DM Marylebone
† Some authoritative sources (e.g. Police and Constabulary Almanac) are self-contradictory and incomplete.
Not all of these stations are currently operational.
Further to this; letters on shoulders will denote borough or newly formed basic command units and not the police station an officer is based from. An example of this would be a PC working from East Ham Police Station in the borough of Newham; the PC would have KF (Newham) on their shoulder and not KE (East Ham station). Similarly in newly merged boroughs a PC working from Holloway Police Station would have CN (Central North BCU) on their shoulder.
PNC codes and collar numbers
When a police officer or a member of staff is in a collaborative (multi-constabulary) unit or department (such as the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Road Policing Unit), the PNC code, which is a force identification number, is added to the collar number to prevent confusion between officers; e.g., 41-9999 would indicate a Hertfordshire officer. These numbers are only used in paperwork and are not seen on the officer's epaulettes.
- "Arrêté du 24 décembre 2013 relatif aux conditions et modalités de port du numéro d'identification individuel par les fonctionnaires de la police nationale, les adjoints de sécurité et les réservistes de la police nationale". Journal officiel de la République française (0300): 46. 24 December 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
- "'Maybe he just forgot': Scotland Yard's incredible excuse for police officer being spotted without ID during street protest", Daily Mail (London), 17 April 2009 (includes extract from Metropolitan Police Service's Dress Code, 2005). Retrieved on 30 June 2009.
- "Welcome to the Wandsworth Borough Police homepage", Metropolitan Police Service website