Line of duty v. journalism in jargon | Nicola Adam column (with glossary of terms)

With Line of duty the current TV obsession, the impenetrable world of police jargon and acronyms is baffling square-eyed binge-watchers across the country.

By Nicola Adam
Friday, 2nd April 2021, 12:30 pm

From ACC (Assistant Chief Constable) , to AC-12 (anti-corruption unit 12) and not to mention an OCG (organised crime group), unless you are actually work in the police, you need a glossary of terms to try and untangle what on earth they are on about.

Of course every industry has its jargon (I struggle to translate my sister who works in IT and often stare back glassy-eyed mid-conversation) but I would wager that the police come only second to journalists when it comes to a spoken shorthand of gibberish.

So police have their CHIS (covert human intelligence source) and the PNC (police national computer), not to mention their AFO (Authorised firearms officer) and their MIT (murder investigation team) and their IRV (incident response vehicle)

Line of duty

But I would like to up their nonsense with journalism’s internal language - or more specifically newspapers.

From NIBS (news in brief) to Backup (smaller stories to fill pages), reporters are often guilty of spouting phrases like ‘Spike’ -an old fashioned term for ditching a story that comes from the story literally being put on a metal spike in its paper form ( yes I know - health and safety were not keen).

Then there is flatplan (layout of what the paper will look like) and copy ( the story itself) to widow (an overhanging short line or end of hyphenated word) to orphan (A paragraph opening line that falls at the beginning of a following page or column) to ROP (run of press: news not adverts) and the DPS (double page spread) - we give Line of Duty a run for its money.

Of course there is far more. We call an exclamation mark a ‘dog’s dick' - the derogatory nature of the description a hint at our feelings on unnecessary punctuation.

Then splash, (front page story), back of book (story to rear of paper), cuttings, head shots, standalone, leads, a bit fish and chippy.

Hold the front page, it's all gibberish.

Glossary of terms: Newspapers /journalism (there are many more!)

Nib: News in brief

Backup: Filling space around main stories

Grout: As above

Filler: As above again

Spike: A story not being used

Back of book: A story not in lead news agenda

Standalone: A picture-led story with a caption

Byline: The reporter's name

Subhead: The subsidiary strapline under the headline

Dog's dick: An exclamation mark

Widow: an overhanging short line or end of hyphenated word

Orphan: A paragraph opening line that falls at the beginning of a following page or column

DBW (Dull but worthy): An important, if not interesting, story

File copy: to submit a story

Point, par: Paragraph end with full stop, new paragraph

Fish and chippy: Pointless story

Headshot/ Mugshot (here we agree with police): Literally a head-only photograph, usually of a criminal offender

Intro: First line of a story

Kicker (two meanings): Either the capped up word in a caption or the final line of a story)

Off stone: Paper has gone to press and print run has begun

Literal: A typo or error, not necessarily a spelling mistake

Glossary of terms (Line of Duty/police)

SitRep (Situation Report)

CHIS (covert human intelligence source)

MIT (murder investigation team)

PNC (police national computer)

TA (tactical advisor).

TFC – Tactical Firearms Commander

AFO – Authorised Firearms Officer

SFC ­– Strategic Firearms Commander

CSE – Crime Scene Examiner

FI – Forensic Investigator

FLO – Family Liaison Officer

FME – Forensics Medical Examiner

PCSO – Police Community Support Officer

SIO – Senior Investigating Officer

UCO – Undercover Officer

DC – Detective Constable (cops who have passed their detective exams get a “D” instead of “P” before their rank)

DS – Detective Sergeant

DI – Detective Inspector

DCI – Detective Chief Inspector

Det Supt – Detective Superintendent

DCS – Detective Chief Superintendent

ACC – Assistant Chief Constable

DCC – Detective Chief Constable

CC – Chief Constable

ARU – armed response unit

CPS – Crown Prosecution Service

DIR – digital interview recorder

DPS – Directorate of Professional Standards

ED905 – this is just an arbitrary code. In series five it represents a truck load of heroin.

IRV – incident response vehicle

MoPI – Management of Police Information

OCG – organised crime group

PR – police regulations