Superintendent (police)

Superintendent (police)

Superintendent (supt), often shortened to "super", is a rank in British police services and in most English-speaking Commonwealth nations. In many Commonwealth countries the full version is superintendent of police (SP). The rank is also used in most British Overseas Territories and in many former British Colonies. In some countries, such as Italy, the rank of Superintendent is a low rank.


  • Australia 1
  • Canada 2
  • Hong Kong 3
  • India 4
  • Ireland 5
  • Italy 6
  • New Zealand 7
  • Pakistan 8
  • South Africa 9
    • Pre-Union 9.1
    • Post-Union 9.2
  • Singapore 10
  • Sri Lanka 11
  • United Kingdom 12
    • Metropolitan Police 12.1
    • Other British forces 12.2
    • Salary 12.3
  • United States 13
  • Famous fictional examples 14
  • See also 15
  • Footnotes 16
  • References 17


In Australia, the rank of superintendent is the next senior rank from chief Inspector and is less senior than a chief superintendent (Victoria Police, South Australia Police, New South Wales Police, Queensland Police) or an assistant commissioner (Western Australia Police). Some officers also hold the rank of detective chief superintendent (though this is seldom used) and detective superintendent. Superintendents wear an epaulette bearing one pip below a crown, the same rank badge as a lieutenant-colonel and wear police caps with a laurel wreath across the brim to indicate seniority.


In Canada, the rank of superintendent is usually the next senior rank up from inspector. Some police forces also have the higher rank of staff superintendent (senior staff superintendent) or regional superintendent.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Police Force ranks are based on the British system:

  • Chief superintendent - in command of a branch or district formation
  • Senior superintendent - second in charge of a district or commander of a bureau
  • Superintendent - in command of HQ unit or police division


Insignia of an Indian Police Service officer with rank of Senior Superintendent of Police

In India, a district superintendent of police (SP) or deputy commissioner of police (DCP) heads the police force of a district. Superintendents of Police are officers of the Indian Police Service. Their rank badge is the state emblem above one star, although those selected for higher rank or with fifteen or more years' service wear the state emblem above two stars.[1] The rank below it is additional deputy commissioner of police (ADL.DCP) or additional superintendent of police (ASP), while the rank above it is senior superintendent of police (SSP) or deputy commissioner of police.In the state of Kerala, superintendents of police in charge of districts are called District Police chiefs.[2]


In the Republic of Ireland the rank of superintendent is between inspector and chief superintendent. There are usually two or three assigned to each division. Detectives use the "Detective" prefix. There were 178 superintendents in the Garda Síochána at the beginning of 2006. In the Irish language, a garda superintendent is a cheannfort, which translates literally as "headman". Ard-cheannfort is a chief superintendent or "high headman". Cheannfort is also used for the military rank of "commandant", equivalent to major.

Each police district is commanded by a superintendent. Districts are sub-units of divisions, which are commanded by chief superintendents.


Shoulder insignia of Superintendent of the Italian State Police.

In Italian State Police the ranks of superintendent (three ranks: Deputy Superintendent, Superintendent and Chief Superintendent) are medium non commissioned officers ranks, senior to Agents and Assistants and junior to Inspectors. In official comparisons, they are equal to Sergeants.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, the rank of superintendent is above inspector and below assistant commissioner. Superintendents are typically appointed as district commanders, and the rank is also held by the commandant of the Royal New Zealand Police College.


Insignia of an Police Service of Pakistan officer with rank of Superintendent of Police

In Pakistan, a senior superintendent of police is the head of the district police. Some districts and police divisions are commanded by superintendents of police. The police service of Pakistan now identifies a new hierarchy including DPO, CCPO etc. Superintendent of police is equivalent to DPO (district police officer) and can be a CSP belonging to PSP and can also be a ranker.

South Africa


The rank was introduced in 1825, for the head of the Cape Town police. It was discontinued in 1860.

It was also used in the short-lived Griqualand Mounted Police from 1873 to 1880 and in the Natal Police from 1894 to 1913, the Transvaal Town Police from 1901 to 1908, the Transvaal Police from 1908 to 1913, and the Orange River Colony Police from 1908 to 1913.


The rank reappeared in the Union of South Africa as the rank pf the head of the South African Railways & Harbours Police in 1944. It was equivalent to the military rank of colonel, with the same rank insignia. From 1946, there were three grades: chief superintendent (brigadier), deputy chief superintendent (colonel), and superintendent (lieutenant-colonel). The police titles were replaced by the military titles in the 1960s.

The title was reinstated for the South African Police Service in 1995. There were two grades: senior superintendent (equivalent to colonel) and superintendent (lieutenant-colonel). The police titles were replaced by the military titles in 2010.


In Singapore, the rank is used in both the police (SPF) and immigration authorities (ICA) as both use the same rank structure.[3][4] It is considered a senior officer rank and is subordinate to a Deputy Assistant Commissioner and above a Deputy Superintendent.

Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, superintendent of police (SP) is a senior gazetted officer rank senior to assistant superintendent of police and junior to senior superintendent of police. The later was created in the 1980s. Superintendents are typically appointed as regional commanders of police divisions.

United Kingdom

The rank of Superintendent is senior to chief inspector and junior to chief superintendent. The rank badge is a crown worn on the epaulettes, the same as a major in the British Army.

Metropolitan Police

London Metropolitan Police ranks
Police Constable Sergeant Inspector Chief Inspector Superintendent Chief Superintendent Commander Deputy Assistant Commissioner Assistant Commissioner Deputy Commissioner Commissioner

The rank of superintendent was introduced at the foundation of the Metropolitan Police in 1829. Each division was commanded by a superintendent. The rank below superintendent was originally inspector until the introduction of chief inspector in 1868. Originally, only the commissioners held a higher rank than superintendent (and they were not sworn police officers). In 1839, Captain William Hay was appointed to the new rank of inspecting superintendent, replaced by assistant commissioner in 1856. The rank of divisional superintendent was introduced between superintendent and assistant commissioner in 1869.

The rank of superintendent was also adopted in the Detective Branch (later the Criminal Investigation Department) from 1868, when Adolphus Williamson, the first head of the branch, was promoted to the rank.

In 1949, Metropolitan Police superintendents were regraded to the new rank of chief superintendent, chief inspectors were regraded to superintendent, and sub-divisional inspectors and divisional detective inspectors were regraded to chief inspector (with those ranks being abolished).

In September 1953, there was another change, when the rank was split into superintendent grade I (current superintendents, chief inspectors commanding sub-divisions and detective chief inspectors commanding divisional CIDs) and superintendent grade II (other current chief inspectors), with a new rank of chief inspector being created for senior inspectors.[5] Superintendents grade II wore the crown (the rank badge formerly worn by chief inspectors), with superintendents grade I wearing a crown over a pip (the rank badge formerly worn by superintendents). This lasted until 1974, when superintendent once more became a single rank, wearing a crown on the epaulettes.

From January 1954 there was one superintendent grade I and one chief inspector in each sub-division, one chief superintendent, one superintendent grade II and one detective superintendent grade I in each division, and one commander, one deputy commander, one detective chief superintendent, and one detective superintendent grade II in each district.[5] A detective chief inspector was added in each division later in 1954.[6]

Other British forces

In most other forces, superintendent lay between inspector and assistant chief constable until well into the 20th century. In many smaller forces, the senior superintendent was also the ACC. Some forces had chief inspectors, and some later acquired chief superintendents, but this was by no means universal. Today, however, every force in the country has all three ranks.


A superintendent's starting salary is £62,298 rising to £72,585 after 5 years. These salaries may be affected by regional and competency pay allowances.[7]

United States

In the United States, superintendent is the title used for the head of certain police departments, such as the New York State Police,[8] Massachusetts State Police,[9] Chicago Police Department, New Orleans Police Department, Puerto Rico Police Department.

Famous fictional examples

See also


  2. ^ "Kerala Police Bill, 2010". 2010-12-04. Retrieved 2013-03-21. 
  3. ^ "Senior Police Officer - Rank Structure".  
  4. ^ "ICA - Rank Structure".  
  5. ^ a b Report of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis for the Year 1953
  6. ^ Report of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis for the Year 1954
  7. ^ "Police Pay Scales". Police Oracle. Retrieved 2013-03-21. 
  8. ^ "Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amico". Retrieved 2013-03-21. 
  9. ^ "Colonel Superintendent Timothy P. Alben". Retrieved 2015-01-16. 


  • Police Forces of the World, by William Hall Watson, Zeus Publications 2006, ISBN 1-921005-63-7