Collar number

A collar number, also known as a shoulder number, force identification number (FIN) or occasionally as force number (although this can also refer to the 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 - other law enforcement agencies, such as HM Prison Service, have also adopted identification numbers. 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.

For the letters shown on riot helmets and the roofs of police vehicles, see Home Office radio callsigns.


In France, the wearing of the collar number is compulsory, save a few exceptions, from 1 January 2014.[1]

United Kingdom

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 letterDivision
AMoor Lane
BSnow Hill
DCloak 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 letterDivision
BSnow Hill
DWood 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 letterDivision
AAnti-Terrorism & Public Order
BSnow Hill
DSpecialist Crime Operations
EProfessional Development Unit
FEconomic 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:

1000–1099Special Sergeants
1100–1299Special Constables

Metropolitan Police

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.

A one, two or three digit number denotes a Sergeant, a three or four 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 123 kg Smith).

An exception to the above was the City of Westminster borough. Westminster had over 1,500 officers therefore a three digit number system was 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 were given the first available number and cross division moves no longer resulted in the need for a new shoulder number.

Central and Specialist Units
CodeSpecialist unit
CCCentral Communications Command (CO10)
CJMet Detention (Custody)
COSpecialist Crime & Operations (includes Specialist Firearms Command, Mounted Branch, Marine Policing Unit etc.)
FRTForensic Retrieval Team
RRoyalty Protection Group (SO14)
RORoyal Parks
MxCSpecialist Crime Directorate
SOSpecialist Operations & Aviation Security SO18 (Heathrow Airport & London City Airport)
VFViolent Crime Task Force (VCTF)
VEOperation Venice
PUnits based at Parliament (Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection)
DUnits supporting diplomats and senior ministers (Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection)
VVehicle Enforcement Team
LLearning Directorate (training)
TRoads and Transport Policing Command - (Merger of ST (Safer Transport) and TD (Traffic)
UTerritorial Support Group (CO20)
Frontline Policing

From 2017 to 2019 the Metropolitan Police Service reformed the organisational structure of Frontline Policing from the existing 32 Borough Operational Command Units (BOCUs) into 12 new Basic Command Units.

Basic Command Unit Sectors (Former BOCUs)Station Codes
CN Central North EK Camden EO Holborn, EK Kentish Town, EW West Hampstead
NI Islington NH Holloway, NI Islington
CE Central East GD Hackney GH Hackney (closed), GD Shoreditch (closed), GN Stoke Newington
HT Tower Hamlets HW Bow, HT Bethnal Green / Whitechapel, HR Brick Lane, HI Isle of Dogs, HH Limehouse, HP Poplar
AS Central South LX Lambeth LD Brixton, LC Cavendish, LN/LM† Clapham, LG Gipsy Hill, LK Kennington, LS Streatham
MD Southwark MC Camberwell, MM Peckham, MR Rotherhithe, MD Southwark, MS Walworth
AW Central West BS Kensington & Chelsea BC Chelsea (closed), BD Kensington, BH Notting Hill (closed), BN Notting Dale (closed)
CW Westminster AD Belgravia, CX Charing Cross, DP Paddington, CD West End Central, DM Marylebone
FH Hammersmith & Fulham FF Fulham, FH Hammersmith, FS Shepherds Bush
NA North Area YE Enfield YE Edmonton, YF Enfield North Cluster, YS Southgate West Cluster, YP Edmonton South Cluster (Formerly Ponders end Cluster)
YR Haringey YR Hornsey, YM Muswell Hill, YA St Ann's, YT Tottenham, YD Wood Green
NE North East JC Waltham Forest JC Chingford, JL Leyton (closed), JS Leytonstone (closed), JW Walthamstow (closed), JK Walthamstow Market, JP Leyton Custody Centre, JA Waltham Abbey (closed, now in Essex)
KF Newham KE East Ham (closed) , KF Forest Gate, KW Fresh Wharf, KN North Woolwich, KW/KO† Plaistow (closed), KS Stratford
EA East Area JI Redbridge JB Barkingside, JI Ilford, JN Wanstead, JF Woodford
KD Havering KL Collier Row, KA Harold Hill, KC Hornchurch, KM Rainham, KD Romford, KU Upminster, KH Harold Hill Patrol Base
KG Barking & Dagenham KB Barking, KG Dagenham, KK Marks Gate, KW Freshwharf,
SE South East PL Lewisham PK Brockley, PD Catford, PP Deptford, PL Lewisham (old, closed), PS Sydenham, PLX Lewisham (new)
RG Greenwich RM Eltham, RG Greenwich, RA Plumstead, RT Thamesmead, RK Westcombe Park, RW Woolwich, RH Shooters Hill (closed)
RY Bexley RB Belvedere, RY Bexleyheath, RS Sidcup
SN South Area PY Bromley PB Beckenham, PH Biggin Hill, PC Chislehurst, PY Bromley, PN Orpington, PG Penge, PW West Wickham
ZD Croydon ZD Croydon, ZN South Norwood, ZY Norbury, ZK Kenley, ZA Addington, ZC Windmill Road Custody
ZT Sutton ZT Sutton, ZW Wallington, ZR Worcester Park
SW South West TW Richmond Upon Thames TR Richmond, TT Teddington, TW Twickenham
VK Kingston upon Thames VK Kingston, VN New Malden, VS Surbiton, VE Esher (Obsolete, previously Metropolitan Police now within Surrey Police Jurisdiction)
VW Merton VM Mitcham, VR Morden, VW Wimbledon
WW Wandsworth WA Battersea, WL Lavender Hill, WD Tooting, WF Earlsfield, WH Wandsworth (also includes the Putney Sector Office which replaced the previous Putney station which had the code WP †)[2]
WA West Area TX Hounslow TB Brentford, TC Chiswick, TF Feltham, TD Hounslow
XB Ealing XA Acton, XD Ealing, XS Southall, XG Greenford
XH Hillingdon XF Harefield, XY Hayes, XU Uxbridge, XN Northwood, XR Ruislip, XE West Drayton
NW North West SX Barnet SA Barnet, SC Colindale, SF Finchley(closed), SG Golders Green, ST Whetstone(closed)
QA Harrow QE Edgware, QA Harrow, QP Pinner, QW Wealdstone, QS West Street
QK Brent QC Chalkhill, QH Harlesden, QK Kilburn, QD Wembley, QL Willesden Green, QY Kingsbury

† 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.

Sussex Police

All officers will be provided with a collar number which is also their warrant number. Prior to September 2018, this was deemed by gender for example CS123 would represent a male officer who's surname started with S, a female would being with a D, DS123 for example.

The second letter would be the first initial of the officer, followed by a three digit number. In September 2018, this changed and all new officers warrant numbers start EA followed by a three digit number.

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.[citation needed]

HM Prison Service

Operational Support Staff and sworn Prison Officers in Her Majesty’s Prison Service bear collar numbers to aid in accountability in the service. Collar numbers bear two letters indicating which establishment the officer is based at and three random numerical digits.