Green’s Dictionary of Slang

fair cop n.

[SE fair + cop n.1 (2)]
(orig. UK Und.)

1. a justifiable arrest; usu. in the tongue-in-cheek phr. it’s a fair cop guvnor, put the bracelets on...

[UK]Dly Gaz. for Middlesborough 4 Oct. 4/4: When witness remarked that it was a fair ‘cop’ Mrs Peacock appeared very much flurried.
[UK]Sunderland Dly Echo 6 Apr. 3/1: McFarlane [...] got in, came out, and was caught [...] When arrested, said ‘Don’t badly use me; it is a fair cop’.
[UK]E.W. Hornung Amateur Cracksman (1992) 33: All right, guv’nor [...] don’t excite. It’s a fair cop.
[UK]Sporting Times 7 Jan. 1/1: Larf? So would you. I’m really innercent of this ’ere. The other times, it was a fair cop, an’ yet yer got me orf!
[UK]‘Sapper’ Human Touch 79: Put the pop-gun away, guv’nor [...] It’s a fair cop, and it might ruddy well go hoff.
[UK]E. Jervis 25 Years in Six Prisons 44: It was a ‘fair cop,’ as the boys call it.
[UK]D.L. Sayers Have His Carcase 127: Lord, Inspector! How you startled me! All right, it’s a fair cop.
[UK]J.G. Brandon Gang War 91: Most arrests by the inspector seemed to be accepted philosophically as a ‘fair cop’.
[UK]R.T. Hopkins Banker Tells All 76: ‘It’s a fair cop,’ he moaned.
[UK]‘Frank Richards’ Billy Bunter at Butlins 208: It’s a fair cop, and I ain’t giving no trouble.
[Ire]H. Leonard Time Was (1981) Act I: Of course there were burglars [...] And when you caught them they said: ‘It’s a fair cop, I’ll come quietly’.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘The Long Legs of the Law’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] Well I’ll come quietly, miss – it’s a fair cop.
[Scot]Desperate Dan Special No. 7 28: It’s a fair cop, Guv! 20 Oct. 🌐 [heading] It’s a Fair Cop. Inspector’s Honesty Scunners G8 Case in Glasgow.

2. any situation seen as fair and about which there is no complaint.

[UK]A. Morrison Child of the Jago (1982) 182: It’ll be a fair cop for ’im [...] ’E’s treated us all pretty mean, one time or another.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 4 Aug. 13/1: Whitewash: My ole man’s goin’ ter China. I call it a fair cop bein’ paid fer stoushin’ Chows.
[UK]E. Pugh Cockney At Home 162: I tell you I thought I was on a fair cop.
[UK]Marvel 3 Mar. 16: Well, it was a fair cop.