PDA

View Full Version : Police ranks in the UK and US



Foolonthehill
10-08-2013, 05:24 PM
Hi everyone. I need to know what a "detective (???)" would be called in the UK (Scotland). He is on a murder case, naturally he has a "Chief". Also, since the case involves an America student, an America detective (???) is sent out to help. What would their ranks be? I think in the Uk it's something like CP, could I just say "officer" though? Or detective? What about the American officer, who would be close to retirement age? Thanks!

mirandashell
10-08-2013, 05:27 PM
Here you go:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_ranks_of_the_United_Kingdom

AVS
10-08-2013, 05:50 PM
Also depends I think where the American officer is from. Different states and cities appear to have different classifications. It might also vary depending on whether the US detective is state, federal, or city.

Our American colleagues will know.

asroc
10-08-2013, 06:04 PM
American police ranks can vary considerably depending on the department. Sometimes detective is a rank (often in larger PDs), sometimes its more like a specialty and detectives are on the same level as regular uniformed officers, hierarchy-wise.

These are some of the ranks you might encounter. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_ranks_of_the_United_States)

Then there are Sheriff's Department and federal law enforcement agencies with their own rank structure. Is this cop supposed to be from a specific department?

(Incidentally, I'm having trouble seeing why the American cop would be there. US PDs have no jurisdiction in the UK. How is he supposed to help?)

onesecondglance
10-08-2013, 06:09 PM
(Incidentally, I'm having trouble seeing why the American cop would be there. US PDs have no jurisdiction in the UK. How is he supposed to help?)

That was my first thought too. The CID officer in charge isn't going to treat the case any differently based on the nationality of the victim - unless there are specific circumstances you haven't mentioned?

ETA: miranda's link has all the info you need, but a simplified version:

Police forces in the UK have a separate branch for detectives, called CID ("Criminal Investigation Department"), which exists alongside the rest of the force. Here is a list of ranks: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criminal_Investigation_Department#Ranks

"Officer" is not the right way to refer to a member of CID - use their actual rank.

For an ordinary investigation, typically a DI will lead, supported by one or more DSs and DCs, reporting into a DCI. On higher profile cases, especially those covering many different lines of investigation, the DCI will directly lead one or more DIs. The number of officers at each rank within each force depends on the size of the particular constabulary - a city force will have more CID than a rural one, for instance.

Foolonthehill
10-08-2013, 07:45 PM
Well, I live in Italy and recently a whole bunch of lawers and forensics experts came over to Italy to work on the Meredith Curtcher Case and, based on what they brought up, Amanda Knox and her boyfriend Sollecito were declared not guilty and she was able to leave jail and fly back to the States. So I think there must be certain occasions when this is possible.Also the American detective has a dual citizenship and is retiring to the UK for good, so I could possibly work my way around that. In fact, if you have any suggestions they would be appreciated as me and my friend (who is writing the part of the American police officer) are only just outlining this novel. I am actually writing the Scottish officer's story and point of view as I am half Scottish. She is American. Thanks!

asroc
10-08-2013, 08:20 PM
Lawyers and forensics experts are different. A police officer can only exercise police power where s/he has jurisdiction. An American police officer in the UK is a private citizen who knows a lot about American police work, no matter what other citizenships s/he may hold. The cop could probably consult in some way, but I'm not sure what special insight the American could have that the Brits wouldn't.

ETA: Re: Officer, while any sworn American police officer could technically be called "Officer," you'd usually address them by their specific rank. "Detective," "Sergeant" and so on.

mirandashell
10-08-2013, 08:53 PM
Yeah, the only British police that get referred to as an officer are police constables. They are in uniform.

Foolonthehill
10-08-2013, 08:56 PM
So, what if we made the American a forensics expert? Would she then be able to help with some cases in the Uk on an official level? Or semi-official. I would guess Americans are top notch when it comes to Forensics, so it might make sense... I am British so I am in no way diminishing the Brits by saying this! :-)

mirandashell
10-08-2013, 09:02 PM
Maybe not. But trust me when I say it won't gone down too well with your British readers.

ironmikezero
10-08-2013, 10:11 PM
(Incidentally, I'm having trouble seeing why the American cop would be there. US PDs have no jurisdiction in the UK. How is he supposed to help?)

Pursuant to treaties, memoranda of understanding, and other related agreements, a number US law enforcement agencies have personnel stationed in other countries, often at US embassies (but not always - e.g.; US Marshals are stationed at INTERPOL in Lyon, France). Even prominent US state/municipal LE agencies (e.g.; the NYPD) have an overseas presence. Missions are typically ad hoc task forces and intelligence analysis/sharing. Cooperative investigations are more common (efficient and effective) than most folks realize (publicity is generally discouraged).

Jurisdiction in an international task force is not a major problem; the most senior investigator assigned from the host country is considered in charge while the investigation is conducted therein. Should the trail move the case to a neighboring country, the lead investigator role rotates accordingly.

This is a significant oversimplification of the relevant details, and only addresses investigative and intelligence aspects (subsequent prosecutions are a whole other game, rife with international politics, etc.), but you get the idea...

waylander
10-08-2013, 10:35 PM
There would, I think, need to be a major US connection (beyond the fact that the victim is American) such that the investigating force would welcome input from a US polcie officer (or other expert). Is the likely perpetator American? Have they fled back there? Do the motives lead back to America?

asroc
10-08-2013, 10:36 PM
Pursuant to treaties, memoranda of understanding, and other related agreements, a number US law enforcement agencies have personnel stationed in other countries, often at US embassies (but not always - e.g.; US Marshals are stationed at INTERPOL in Lyon, France). Even prominent US state/municipal LE agencies (e.g.; the NYPD) have an overseas presence. Missions are typically ad hoc task forces and intelligence analysis/sharing. Cooperative investigations are more common (efficient and effective) than most folks realize (publicity is generally discouraged).

Jurisdiction in an international task force is not a major problem; the most senior investigator assigned from the host country it considered in charge while the investigation is conducted therein. Should the trail move the case to a neighboring country, the lead investigator role rotates accordingly.

This is a significant oversimplification of the relevant details, and only addresses investigative and intelligence aspects (subsequent prosecutions are a whole other game, rife with international politics, etc.), but you get the idea...

I'm aware of that. What I'm not seeing is why a case like the OP's would warrant the involvement of a US police officer, let alone an international task force. The local police force ought to be able to handle it just fine.

Rufus Coppertop
10-08-2013, 10:46 PM
So, what if we made the American a forensics expert? Would she then be able to help with some cases in the Uk on an official level? Or semi-official. I would guess Americans are top notch when it comes to Forensics, so it might make sense... I am British so I am in no way diminishing the Brits by saying this! :-)If you don't know yet whether this character is a detective or a forensic scientist, why are you so certain that he has to be American?

If you're British, you're no doubt aware that the UK police are generally competent and so are their forensic scientists. You would also be aware that the UK is not some primitive backwater that never invented anything and never spawned creative minds that contributed and contribute to the arts and sciences.

Rina Evans
10-08-2013, 11:17 PM
Wow, let's not assume the OP thinks British people are backwater and not able to handle investigations. It sounds like a fun premise, getting someone from another country involved in police investigations. They did it on Bones when a British guy died, they helped (I think he was the partner of a detective and Bones' professor... though details are sketchy). Before that, I think a daughter of an American businessman was killed and he insisted that the FBI help Scotland Yard in solving the case. Could you do something like that with your story?

AVS
10-09-2013, 01:08 AM
But we are a backwater. I live in a swamp. The police couldn't even discover who moved my cheese. Not that we can make cheese. More a sort of gooey milk.

With a little luck someone will invent fire before winter. And a wheel. (Whatever that is.)

I do know the OP is looking for a way to get a US expert in, presumably for some plot reason yet unrevealed. Dear Foolonthehill please excuse my joshing.

EMaree
10-09-2013, 01:58 AM
I don't find the American expert idea offensive in any way -- it reminds me a little of the recent episode in Elementary where the main characters (one American, one Brit-living-in-America) headed across the pond. It had some horribly stereotypical moments but it was all good fun.

I know that the London Metropolitan Police occasionally has American police visit, but it's more to "see how the other side lives" rather than for investigations. I can't find any source articles for this, though. I just remember it from when I did their IT.

EDIT: Ahaha, found a relevant link! They tried to consult a US "supercop" (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14519187)on how to tackle London crime more efficiently, but public (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9820566/US-supercop-wants-to-lead-the-Met-Police.html) reaction was (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/8685423/David-Camerons-US-supercop-blocked-by-Theresa-May.html) not very pleased (http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2013/feb/25/bill-bratton-british-police-fewer-arrests).

This Google query (https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=american+police+called+in+to+help+new+sco tland+yard&oq=american+police+called+in+to+help+new+scotland+ yard&aqs=chrome..69i57.5312j0j7&sourceid=chrome&espvd=210&es_sm=93&ie=UTF-8#es_sm=93&q=US+supercop+london+metropolitan+police&safe=active&start=0) will get you a range of related results, though I avoided all Daily Fail articles.

onesecondglance
10-09-2013, 12:30 PM
There's no problem with the premise of getting an outside expert in - there just has to be a good reason for it, otherwise it will undermine the rest of the plot.

Bureaucratic pressure could work. If there's some reason the US consulate is really keen to get it cleared up, they could put the American guy in as an independent observer, just to monitor the investigation. The UK police wouldn't be massively happy about it, but it would give a good reason for the American guy to have access to the case as it progresses.

Rufus Coppertop
10-09-2013, 11:22 PM
But we are a backwater. I live in a swamp. The police couldn't even discover who moved my cheese. It wasn't me. I only rip off Stilton when I'm doing a cheese raid in the UK.

mirandashell
10-09-2013, 11:47 PM
Get your hands off our cheese!

Actually are you allowed to take cheese on a plane?

AVS
10-10-2013, 01:04 AM
Get your hands off our cheese!

Actually are you allowed to take cheese on a plane?


Not to Australia, customs will fumigate you, irradiate you and throw you into an oubliette for ten years if you try to smuggle cheese in... New Zealanders are even more fearsome.

SergeantC
10-10-2013, 09:27 PM
My advice is to figure out what jurisdiction the American cop or expert is from, then research the rank structure there.

Just as an example, an investigator's rank could be detective, sergeant, investigator, inspector (in certain California cities,) or special agent in Federal and certain state law enforcement agencies.

You really have to know how the particular agency your character belongs to does it.