Station house officer

A station house officer (SHO) is the officer in charge of a police station in India and Pakistan. The Station House Officer (SHO) is a police officer of such rank as may be fixed by the government who is entrusted with the overall supervision of the functions of each police station and that officer shall be the officer in charge of the police station. The SHO holds the rank of inspector[1] or sub-inspector.[2] A station house officer is not a rank, but rather a post or designation. In India, the law permits a station house officer to conduct the investigation of crimes.[3]

Insignia of a Sub-inspector
Insignia of a Inspector
Insignia of officers who heads a police station

As of 1 January 2022, there are a total of 16,955 sanctioned police stations in India.[4][5]

Officer-in-charge (OC)

In some states in India, the SHO is also called the Officer-in-charge (OC), mostly in rural areas where a police station is headed by a Sub-inspector of police.

Inspector-in-charge (IC)

In West Bengal, mostly in urban or semi-urban areas, where a police station is headed by an inspector, is called the Inspector-in-charge (IC)


The Station House Officer:

  • shall maintain law and order within the respective jurisdiction of each police station
  • is responsible for the prevention and detection of crimes within the jurisdiction of the police station
  • shall ensure timely completion of investigation and submission of Final Report before the Hon’ble Court
  • is responsible for the proper functioning and supervision of subordinate police officers of the police station


  1. ^ "40 inspectors say no to station house officer’s post", The Times of India, 3 January 2014
  2. ^ Puducherry Police Manual
  3. ^ Vadackumchery, James (2000). Human rights friendly police : a myth or reality?. New Delhi: A.P.H. Pub. p. 53. ISBN 9788176481502. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  4. ^ "Bureau of Police Research & Development (BPR&D) releases Data on Police Organizations as on 01.01.2020". Retrieved 15 March 2023.
  5. ^ "Ranking of Police Stations 2019" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs. Retrieved 15 March 2023.