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UK Police Phonetic Alphabet

  • Time to read: 4 min.

The UK Police Phonetic Alphabet: Everything you need to know, and more!

Like many other countries, the United Kingdom police use the phonetic alphabet for error-free communication via radio. The system is made up of words beginning with a letter from the alphabet. For more about the origin of the UK phonetic alphabet, a printable of the UK police phonetic alphabet and games to help you learn how to seamlessly use the phonetic alphabet, read on!

What is the Police Alphabet Called?

The police alphabet is known as the phonetic alphabet or the NATO phonetic alphabet. It is called the phonetic alphabet, due to the words sounding like the letters they represent, I.e S – Sierra.

What are the Origins of the Phonetic Alphabet?

The UK phonetic alphabet originates from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), during World War I.  It was developed to improve communication on low-quality and long-distance telephone connections and so that all parties involved were using the same language.

Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu

Police Phonetic Alphabet UK, Police Alphabet, UK Police Alphabet

The situation these people found themselves in is not dissimilar to what officers find themselves in today. Officers will often find themselves in dangerous situations and need to communicate this to colleagues.

There can be a lot of, background noise, poor signal, and even the accent or dialect of the office can affect the clarity of the message that is trying to be passed.

It is important that messages are delivered clearly, concisely, and quickly; to ensure that this happened the police alphabet is used.  Everybody is using the same language, so messages are easily understood by all.

Phonetic Alphabet UK Printable Version

If you have been looking for a printable version of the UK Police Phonetic Alphabet check out the printable below.

You will find not only the letter of the alphabet and the word used to represent that letter but also the pronunciation of that word. This can be particularly useful if English is not your first language.

Click on the image to get you FREE Police Phonetic Alphabet printable.

If you are a student officer, print off a couple of copies and put them in prominent places so you can learn. If you are a teacher – feel free to print this off and put it up on your classroom wall.

Police Phonetic Alphabet UK, Police Alphabet, UK Police Alphabet

Who else uses the UK Police Phonetic Alphabet?

Other than the police, the UK phonetic alphabet is used by, military and other emergency services and armed forces. This ensures that when agencies are working together, they are communicating using the same language.  

Games to help you Learn the Police Phonetic Alphabet

There are some really quick games that you can use in order to learn the police phonetic alphabet. Some of these you can play on your own, others are perfect for groups (even in the classroom if you teach student officers).

The License Plate Game

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If you are on the bus, walking down the street, or stuck in stationary traffic, practice reading out the number plate in Infront of you.

This will be an invaluable experience for you having to pass vehicle license plates/vehicle registration marks (VRMs) over your radio.

Please only do this when it is safe to do so

Read Aloud

Next time you’re reading a post, tweet, newspaper headline, spell out the words using the phonetic alphabet. This will prepare you for when you have to read out names phonetically.

Hangman

If there is a group of you, why not try playing a game of hangman using the phonetic alphabet?

Extra bonus points if the words/terms that you are using are police-related!

Police Phonetic Alphabet UK, Police Alphabet, UK Police Alphabet

Names

If there is a group of you – all right down a name, yours or your favourite celebrities! Pop all of the names in a tub and take turns to draw one out and spell it out phonetically!

Yes, none of these games are rock and roll, but whether you’re a Police Officer, Special Constable, Call Taker, PCSO or have any role within the Police, you will need to be able to use the police phonetic alphabet without thinking about it. The only way to do this is by practicing!

Summary

The police phonetic alphabet is well established within policing and the emergency services. It is one of the first things you will learn on joining the service, in any role. Learning the police alphabet early in your service is one of your basic building blocks, which will give you confidence.

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