You may have read about the 4 Professional Investigation Programme (PIP) levels and what constitutes Volumes and Priority crime along with who should be investigating these crime and Serious and Complex crimes on my previous posts.  If you missed them, catch up here: 4 PIP Levels You Need to Know About and 16 Crimes That Don’t Need a Detective and Serious and Complex Crimes in Your Stories.

Now I’m going to describe what a Major Crime is and who is likely to lead such an investigation so that you can get the right character investigating the right type of crime in your stories.

Serious and Complex crimes are usually investigated by a Detective Constable.  The more serious or complex they become, the more likely a supervisory officer, such as a Detective Sergeant or a Detective Inspector, may take charge of the investigation.

These categories of crime can escalate to become known as Major Crimes where there are aggravating factors such as one or more of the following:

  • there is a likelihood of escalation into large-scale disorder or a critical incident e.g. activists striving to escalate a peaceful demonstration into a violent confrontation;
  • the original offence has escalated in significance to the community e.g. an assault on a child looking likely to turn into “hunt the paedophile;”
  • sensitivity regarding the individuals involved be they victims or suspects e.g. someone significant in the community;
  • there is increased media interest (especially in the above example);
  • there are aggravating factors in the offence e.g. the victim suffered unnecessary and excessive violence;
  • the victim or witness is particularly vulnerable e.g. the burglary of a very elderly person’s home, which causes them to be hospitalised through the trauma of the event;
  • the crime crosses force or national boundaries e.g. an armed robbery where the car used, was stolen in one force area, the robbery committed in a second force area and the car used dumped in a third force area;
  • the crime forms part of a series of undetected offences (probably) committed by the same offender(s);
  • the crime has been committed by an organised crime gang;
  • there are terrorist links to the crime e.g. the theft of chemicals likely to be used in the manufacture of explosives;
  • the offenders are both forensically and surveillance aware and are exploiting police vulnerabilities or
  • there are multiple offenders e.g. five people involved in one burglary or assault.


PIP Level 3 offences categorised as major investigations include:

  • murder
  • attempted murder
  • threat to murder
  • manslaughter
  • infanticide
  • child destruction
  • kidnapping
  • terrorism offences.

At PIP Level 3 a nationally registered Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) will be appointed to lead a major investigation.  They could be a Detective Inspector, Detective Chief Inspector or Detective Superintendent.  The decision who it should be is usually made by the head of crime (Detective Chief Superintendent), or appointed Deputy/Assistant Chief Constable in some forces.

So, if you want your character to be anything other than a Detective Inspector or above, investigating a murder, they had better have a plausible reason for doing so rather than it being left to an accredited SIO.  Unless of course, you have ideas you would like to share.

Watch out for my next post to find out about PIP Level 4 or if you can’t wait, you can always try to find the answers using your copy of the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers or click on the picture below to buy your copy:BPCD Cover

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