The rank of chief inspector is used in the New South Wales Police and South Australia Police. Victoria Police declassified the rank in the mid-1990s. In both forces, it is senior to the rank of inspector and junior to the rank of superintendent. The insignia consists of a crown, the same insignia as that of a Major in the army.
In the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary, a chief inspector is normally a police station commander or the second-in-command of the Police Training College. It is a rank between senior inspector and superintendent.
In the Philippines, chief inspector is a rank in the Philippine National Police, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and the Bureau of Fire Protection. It is above senior inspector and below superintendent and is regarded as the equivalent of major in the Philippine Army.
In the Sri Lanka Police Service, chief inspector of Police (CIP) is senior to inspector and junior to assistant superintendent of police. In large cities, a chief inspector is the officer in charge (OIC) of a large police station. The rank insignia for a chief inspector is three stars.
In the British police, a chief inspector is senior to an inspector and junior to a superintendent.
Today, the function of chief inspectors varies from force to force. They may assist Basic Command Unit (BCU) commanders, command smaller units, or fill various staff posts. In some forces such as Hampshire Constabulary and Sussex Police, the chief inspector is the senior officer in command of a district (usually consisting of one or more local authority areas). In this respect they have replaced superintendents as the head police officer of the larger towns.
Detective chief inspector (DCI) is usually the minimum rank held by a senior investigating officer (SIO), who heads major investigations (e.g. murder), and a pool of these officers usually works out of force headquarters or major police stations. The senior Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer in each BCU usually also holds this rank.
The rank badge of a chief inspector is three Bath stars ("pips") worn on the epaulettes. This is the same badge as a captain in the British Army. Until 1953, chief inspectors in the Metropolitan Police wore a crown on their epaulettes instead.
Chief inspector was one of the ranks proposed for abolition in the 1994 Sheehy Report, but in the end it was retained.
The rank was first introduced into the Metropolitan Police in 1868 and was first used by Adolphus Williamson, the first head of the Detective Branch (later the Criminal Investigation Department). When Williamson was promoted to superintendent shortly afterwards, three of his inspectors were promoted to chief inspector and the rank was firmly established. In 1869 it was also introduced as a uniformed rank, with the senior assistant to the divisional superintendent being given the rank. The rank subsequently spread to other police forces.
From 1933, every Metropolitan Police division had two chief inspectors: chief inspector (administration) and chief inspector (crime) (the latter also being a uniformed administrative officer and not replacing the divisional detective inspector (DDI)). From 1949, sub-divisional inspectors and DDIs were regraded as chief inspectors and current chief inspectors were regraded as superintendents. From 1953, chief inspectors commanding sub-divisions and detective chief inspectors commanding divisional CIDs were regraded as superintendents grade I, other chief inspectors were regraded as superintendents grade II, and a redefined rank of chief inspector was created for senior inspectors. Since 1974, the Metropolitan Police has only had one rank of superintendent, in common with the rest of the country.
From January 1954, there was one superintendent grade I and one chief inspector in each sub-division, and one chief superintendent, one superintendent grade II and one detective superintendent grade I in each division. A detective chief inspector was added in each division later in 1954.
It was announced in October 2016 that the rank (along with the rank of commander) would be phased out of the Metropolitan Police Service by October 2018, however this plan has now been cancelled.
A chief inspector's starting salary is £51,789, or £53,853 if serving in London. After three years, it increases to £53,919, or £55,980 if serving in London. Officers who have been at this point for a year have access to the competence related threshold payment of £1,095 per year.