View OED entry

SOCO noun earlier than 1977

Gary Phillips provided information that enabled us to find verifiable evidence from 1970.

Now familiar from police procedurals and television crime dramas, the term SOCO (an acronym from ‘scene(s)-of-crime officer’) originated in the jargon of Scotland Yard. The first example in OED‘s entry is from a dictionary of abbreviations:

1977 Ellen T. Crowley  New Acronyms, Initialisms, & Abbreviations 148/1 SOCO, Scenes-of-the-Crime Officer [Scotland Yard].

We can assume that the author of this glossary had seen evidence of the word, so there ought to be documentation predating the publication of the book. We would expect to find it in documents or publications relating to British law enforcement. Can you help us?

Posted by OED_Editor on 30 November 2012 10.28
Comments: 3

  • hugo_oed

    Nothing earlier, but this appears to be from the same year, in a list of abbreviations in Murder Ink – Page 321 – by Dilys Winn – 1977:

    SOCO. Scenes of Crime Officer (spoken as “Socco”): police or civilians who visit scenes of crimes to photograph them or to undertake other scientific investigations 

  • Deborah D

    As well as being a job description the term was also a rank. SOCO II, SOCO I, Senior SOCO, etc. Documented proof would have to exist at Scotland Yard for at least as early as 1973. As a Fingerprint Officer my husband worked alongside SOCO’s at that time. As there were also Senior SOCOs in existence back then, then the term would have to pre-date 1973 by several years. As it was a rank there would have to be a record somewhere in the Home Office as people were employed under that job description. 

  • Gary Phillips

    Please note this file dating from 1969/70 at the National Archives

    Obviously the reference to SOCO is in the index. Whether the acronym is mentioned in the file will require inspection.