IC codes

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Law enforcement
in the United Kingdom
Types of agency
Types of agent

IC codes (identity code) or 6+1 codes are codes used by the British police in radio communications to describe the apparent ethnicity of a suspect. Originating in the late 1970s, the codes are based on a police officer's perceived view of an individual's ethnicity based on a visual assessment, as opposed to that individual's self-definition.[1][2] In most circumstances where an individual's ethnicity is recorded after spoken contact with police (such as a "stop and search" or arrest), police are required to use the more extensive "16+1" self defined ethnicity codes, "even if the category chosen is clearly at odds with the officer’s visual assessment".[2]

Code Ethnicity[2]
IC1 Nordic- Native British, Scandinavian, German, etc.
IC2 Mediterranean - South European, eg Spanish, Italian or Greek
IC3 Black - Sub-Saharan African or Afro-Caribbean
IC4 Desi - South Asian
IC5 Far East e.g. Chinese, Korean, Japanese, or other Southeast Asian
IC6 West Asia or North Africa
IC9 Unknown

The usage of IC codes in relation to individuals is recorded as part of information collected during activities including "stop and search", issuing of fixed penalties, arrest, and custody of individuals, and is recorded on a number of police databases.[2][3][4] This is as required under section 95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991, which states that:

(1) The Secretary of State shall in each year publish such information as he considers expedient for the purpose of—

(a) enabling persons engaged in the administration of criminal justice to become aware of the financial implications of their decisions;
(b) facilitating the performance by such persons of their duty to avoid discriminating against any persons on the ground of race or sex or any other improper ground.
— Criminal Justice Act 1991, section 95[5]

The IC codes are also known as PNC or Phoenix Codes, or the 6+1 system.[citation needed] Other individuals involved in security and law enforcement, such as environmental enforcement officers, street wardens, guardians (Cheltenham), city guardians (Broad Street, Westminster City Council), police community support officers, revenue protection inspectors, security guards and door supervisors, also use IC codes on a regular basis.[citation needed]

Other uses[edit]

The IC classification has also been used in scientific research. In 2014, a global forensic database based on the IC codes was established. It contains the microsatellite (short tandem repeat) profiles of 7121 individuals from various parts of the world residing or applying to live in the UK and Ireland. The six population database is used in a forensic setting to ascertain distant relatedness or coancestry according to the fixation index (FST) measure of genetic distance.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mackie, Lindsay (14 June 1978). "Race causes an initial confusion". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Bowsher, Kevin (2 March 2007). "The code systems used within the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to formally record ethnicity". MPA briefing paper. Metropolitan Police Authority. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  3. ^ FitzGerald, Marian; Sibbitt, Rae (1997). "Ethnic monitoring in police forces: A beginning" (PDF). Home Office Research Study 173. London: Home Office.
  4. ^ "Race and the Criminal Justice System: An overview to the complete statistics 2003–2004" (PDF). Criminal Justice System. February 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 February 2011. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
  5. ^ Criminal Justice Act 1991, section 95
  6. ^ Steele, Christopher D.; Court, Denise Syndercombe; Balding, David J. (November 2014). "Worldwide Fst Estimates Relative to Five Continental-Scale Populations". Annals of Human Genetics. 78 (6): 468–477. doi:10.1111/ahg.12081. PMC 4223938. PMID 26460400.