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Logo | The Police Advisor
  • Writer's pictureAndy Oldham

What's in an epaulette?

Updated: Apr 25

Do you know your police ranks? What do all the stripes, pips and numbers mean? When and where are they worn? What about the colourful ones?



All uniformed police officers should be displaying their rank and/or number somewhere on their uniform. Most often this will be epaulettes, on a shoulder - but they can also be on the front of stab vests, jackets, etc.


There are lots of police ranks, not all of which are immediately obvious to the uninitiated. And to add to the confusion, police officers have to display their number only up to a certain rank - once they're promoted to Inspector (and above) it's insignia only!


Let me add more uncertainty to the mix - the displayed number (called a shoulder number, or sometimes a collar number) isn't necessarily the same as the officer's "warrant" number. And in some police forces the officer's number stays the same throughout their service, in others it changes every time they move to a different department or division. The Metropolitan Police in London have additional senior officer ranks too.


Add to that the fact that public order supervisory officers wear different coloured epaulettes to help identify them in a crowd, and in addition some forces are now allowing officers to wear rainbow coloured epaulettes in support of the LBGTQ+ community.


Confused yet? What you need is a Police Advisor!


Could your next Film or TV production benefit from a Police Advisor to help your costume department get the uniform spot on? Please get in touch for a free, no obligation chat about how I might be able to help your production look and feel authentic, without holding up the story!  

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