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Station sergeant (also known as Crown sergeant or Staff sergeant) is a police rank senior to sergeant and junior to inspector in some British and Commonwealth police forces. The rank insignia is usually a sergeant's three chevrons surmounted by a crown, or sometimes four chevrons. The Metropolitan Police (of London), which was the first force to introduce the rank, originally used four chevrons, but later changed to a crown over three chevrons. A police officer holding the rank will be the senior sergeant in a police station, or in some cases the commander of a smaller sub-divisional police establishment.
The rank is currently used in the Hong Kong Police Force (station sergeant), the Royal Barbados Police Force (station sergeant), the Port of Felixstowe Police (station sergeant), and most Canadian police forces (staff sergeant). It was historically used in the London Metropolitan Police (station sergeant) and the Royal Parks Constabulary (crown sergeant). The rank is also used, though with a different operational role (see below), in the Australian Federal Police.
Although only used in special circumstances, the Australian Federal Police uniquely has separate ranks of both senior sergeant and staff sergeant. Whilst on deployment in peacekeeping operations with the International Deployment Group members of the AFP are appointed to the ranks of senior sergeant (three chevrons below a crown which is surrounded by a laurel leaf), station sergeant (a crown surrounded by a laurel leaf), superintendent (a pip and a crown), or commander (three pips and crown).
In the Hong Kong Police Force, the rank of station sergeant (SSGT) is senior to sergeant but junior to inspector. A station sergeant is required to have served three years at the rank of sergeant and be recommended by a selection board before being promoted to the rank. Station sergeant is the highest non-commissioned rank in the Hong Kong Police Force. Because of that, station sergeants tend to be the most experienced NCO in a unit, serving as the commander or second-in-command of a unit and/or a station if necessary.
To progress to the rank of inspector, a station sergeant must undergo the same application process as other junior officers. The rank badge of a station sergeant is the Hong Kong Police badge surrounded by a wreath worn in the centre of the shoulder strap. However, Station Sergeants go through a 13-week training process instead of the 36-week training that other officers do.
A distinctive feature of the uniform of a station sergeant is that they wear the white shirt typically worn by commissioned officers as opposed to the cornflower blue or dodger blue shirts worn by sergeants and all ranks below. However, acting station sergeants may wear the blue shirts with station sergeant insignia.
In the Metropolitan Police, the station sergeant, or station police sergeant (SPS), was the senior sergeant in a police station. He either acted as the station inspector's deputy or commanded a smaller station that had no Inspector. When introduced the rank insignia consisted of four chevrons, from 1921 this arrangement was replaced by a crown over three chevrons, the same insignia as a staff sergeant in the British Army.
The rank of Station Sergeant was officially introduced to uniform grades in 1871. In 1890, a station sergeant's pay started at 45 shillings a week (a sergeant's maximum pay was 40 shillings a week), rising by an annual increment of 1 shilling a week to 48 shillings a week.
Originally, station sergeant was a mandatory step between sergeant and inspector, but later it became common to miss out the rank entirely and it became more of a reward for long-serving sergeants who did not wish to be promoted to inspector. The rank was never available to women officers.
No further promotions to the ranks of station sergeant and first class detective sergeant were made after 1973. The last officer to hold the rank was Station Sergeant William Palmer, who retired in 1980. However, the term continued to be used to denote the senior sergeant in a station, although it was no longer a separate rank with its own insignia.
Possibly the most famous fictional station sergeant was George Dixon in the long-running television series Dixon of Dock Green.
An equivalent rank was clerk sergeant, or clerk police sergeant (CPS), held by the officer responsible for all administration in a division. Clerk sergeants were regraded as inspectors in January 1954.
City of London Police
Port of Felixstowe Police
The Port of Felixstowe Police, a small British specialised police force responsible for policing the Port of Felixstowe, had one officer of the rank of station sergeant until 2015, and held the distinction of being the final British police force to employ this historic rank. In 2015, on the retirement of Inspector M. Hayward, the last station sergeant, Station Sergeant A. Miaoulis, was promoted to inspector, and the rank of station sergeant was abolished.
Royal Parks Constabulary
- Insignia illustrated on the Royal Barbados Police Force website.
- See Royal Canadian Mounted Police rank markings.
- Report of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis for the Year 1953
- Chief Officer's Annual Report, 1989