Assistant Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis

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Met Assistant Commissioner Epaulette

Assistant Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, usually just Assistant Commissioner (AC), is the third highest rank in London's Metropolitan Police, ranking below Deputy Commissioner and above Deputy Assistant Commissioner. There are usually four officers in the rank. However, currently there are five due to the secondment of Assistant Commissioner Rob Beckley to Operation Resolve, the criminal investigation into the Hillsborough Disaster. There have also at times been five in the past.

From 1 September 2016 the salary is £198,823 (plus £2,373 allowance). This does not include use of private car and pension contributions. This makes them the equal fifth highest paid police officers in the United Kingdom, behind the Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioner, the Chief Constable of Police Scotland, and the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and alongside the chief constables of Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.[1]


19th century

The rank of assistant commissioner was introduced by the Police Act 1856, which abolished the two joint commissioners and established a single Commissioner (Sir Richard Mayne) assisted by two assistant commissioners. The Assistant Commissioner (Administrative) was in charge of administration and discipline. The Assistant Commissioner (Executive) was in charge of executive business, supplies and buildings. The first two men to fill these posts were Lieutenant-Colonel Douglas Labalmondière and Captain William C. Harris respectively.

Like the Commissioner, the assistant commissioners were sworn in as justices of the peace, although they could not try criminal cases. This continued until 1973. Like the Commissioner, the assistant commissioners were mainly appointed from outside the police until well into the 20th century, although career police officers could and sometimes did rise to the rank.

In 1878, Howard Vincent was appointed Director of Criminal Intelligence, a post that had equal rank to the assistant commissioners, but not the title. On his resignation in 1884, his post was replaced by a third assistant commissioner, the Assistant Commissioner (Crime).

Lettered departments

In 1909, Commissioner Sir Edward Henry, realising that the assistant commissioners' workload was becoming too great, appointed a fourth assistant commissioner, who took over some of the duties of the Assistant Commissioner (Executive). The four became known as Assistant Commissioners "A", "B", "C" and "L", heading departments with the same letter designations. Assistant Commissioner "A" effectively acted as Deputy Commissioner until 1931, when a separate Deputy Commissioner was appointed. From 1922 until 1931, Assistant Commissioner "A" was generally known as the Deputy Commissioner.

After World War I, Assistant Commissioner "B" became responsible solely for traffic and lost property, with his other former duties divided between Assistant Commissioners "A" and "L". Assistant Commissioner "L" was responsible for "L" (Legal) Department until its reorganisation in 1931. After 1931, he was renamed Assistant Commissioner "D" and became responsible for policy and planning.

By the end of World War II, Assistant Commissioner "A" (Operations and Administration) was responsible for all uniformed police, including specialist units, except traffic police, which were under Assistant Commissioner "B" (Traffic). Assistant Commissioner "C" (Crime) headed the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), and Assistant Commissioner "D" (Personnel and Training) was responsible for recruitment, training, welfare, communications and police dogs. In 1970, Commissioner Sir John Waldron designated Assistant Commissioner "D" as the senior Assistant Commissioner. As policing became more technical, Assistant Commissioner "B" also became responsible for technical support.

Reorganisation in the 1980s and 1990s

In 1985, Commissioner Sir Kenneth Newman finally abolished the system of lettered departments. He redesignated the four Assistant Commissioners as:

  • Assistant Commissioner Territorial Operations (ACTO), in charge of all uniformed and CID units based on the divisions.
  • Assistant Commissioner Specialist Operations (ACSO), in charge of all specialised and centralised uniformed and CID units.
  • Assistant Commissioner Personnel and Training (ACPT), in charge of all personnel issues, including recruitment, training and welfare.
  • Assistant Commissioner Management Support (ACMS), in charge of strategic planning, management services, public relations and a number of other miscellaneous departments.

In 1992, with increasing focus on the Met's image and quality of service, Commissioner Sir Peter Imbert redesignated the ACMS as Assistant Commissioner Inspection and Review (ACIR), in charge of collecting performance data from across the Metropolitan Police District.

In 1995, Commissioner Sir Paul Condon introduced the widest-ranging reorganisation when he increased the number of assistant commissioners to six. The previous eight Areas, each commanded by a deputy assistant commissioner (DAC), were reduced to five, each commanded by an assistant commissioner, designated AC 1 to 5. Each assistant commissioner also had force-wide responsibility for a 'portfolio' (such as crime or traffic), setting force policy and managing related headquarters branches. ACSO remained outside the area system and continued to manage the Specialist Operations units.

Current organisation

In 2000, the system changed again, with policing restructured around the boroughs and the areas being abolished. The six assistant commissioners were reduced to four again. With the creation of the Specialist Crime Directorate under its own assistant commissioner in 2002, there were five assistant commissioners, although this was once again reduced to four in 2008. In 2011 the number was briefly increased to five again, then reduced to four once more. The posts have held varying designations since 2000, with the ACSO being the only post to have remained since the initial reorganisation in 1985.

The assistant commissioners are considered to hold equal rank to the chief constables of other British police forces and wear the same rank insignia: a crown over crossed tipstaves in a wreath.

Assistant commissioners from 1856 to 1985

These positions existed concurrently.

Assistant Commissioners "A"

Assistant Commissioners "B"

Assistant Commissioners "C"

Assistant Commissioners "L/D"

Assistant commissioners from 1985 onwards

These were not all concurrently existing positions.


Assistant Commissioner Central Area (1)

Assistant Commissioners North-West Area (2)

Assistant Commissioners North-East Area (3)

Assistant Commissioner South-East Area (4)

Assistant Commissioners South-West Area (5)


Assistant Commissioners Specialist Operations

Assistant Commissioners Territorial Operations

Assistant Commissioners Management Support

Assistant Commissioners Personnel and Training

Assistant Commissioner Inspection and Review

Assistant Commissioner Strategic Development

Assistant Commissioners Territorial Policing

Assistant Commissioners Policy, Review and Standards

Assistant Commissioner Human Resources

Assistant Commissioners Specialist Crime

Assistant Commissioners Central Operations

Assistant Commissioner Service Improvement

Assistant Commissioner Professional Standards and Intelligence

Assistant Commissioners Operational Services

Assistant Commissioner Olympics and Paralympics

Assistant Commissioners Central Operations and Specialist Crime

Assistant Commissioner Operation Resolve

Assistant Commissioner Professionalism

Assistant Commissioners Specialist Crime and Operations

Assistant Commissioners Frontline Policing

Assistant Commissioners Met Operations


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "No. 27479". The London Gazette. 3 October 1902. p. 6273.
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