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What is a warrant card?

Everyone knows the police must show some ID on request, but do you know what to look for? Here's how to avoid being fooled by a bus pass.

All police constables must carry a warrant (ID) card as proof of identity/authority, and cannot refuse to show it on demand. Note this warrant card is different to a search warrant, it does not in itself give them permission to search your home.

Warrant cards may differ according to each constabulary, but chances are you'll be presented with a black folding wallet - this contains a metal badge on one side (indicating which constabulary the officer is from) and a white card inside a plastic sleeve with the following details:

  • Photograph of the holder: A regular officer must appear in uniform, while a Special Constable is free to pose in *civvies*.
  • The serial number for the warrant card: Printed on the card itself.
  • The officer's name: Just don't get too familiar, or call him Dick if his name is Richard. Whatever the name, it's 'officer' to you.
  • The officer's rank: From Constable to Chief Inspector.
  • The officer's warrant number: Recognisable because it takes the form of two digits, a forward slash, followed by six digits.
  • The officer's signature: But only in the case of full-time officers
  • The Police Commissioner's signature: But no jokes about the scrawl *looking a bit serial killer*.

If you're in any doubt about the authenticity of an officer - take their name, rank and number, or as much info as you can. They may be reluctant to let you physically take the warrant card from their possession in order to note down the details, but they are obliged to supply you with information from it so you can contact the station to confirm their identity.

Updated: 23/03/2009

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