Jackton Police Training College is located to the south of East Kilbride on the road leading to Eaglesham. It is a purpose-built training facility for Strathclyde Police and since this force covers half the population of Scotland, it trains large numbers of police officers.

There are lecture rooms, canteens, meeting rooms, specialist units such as a firearms unit and training for policing of demonstrations and other large gatherings. Officers can be trained in the use of body armour and riot shields and in the control and apprehension of extremely violent offenders.

The emphasis at all times is on maximising the safety and security of members of the public and of the police officers themselves.

Most of the current members of East Renfrewshire RoADAR group gathered there on the evening of 11 September. Our purpose was to see a demonstration of the driving and road safety aspects of police work in Strathclyde.

Jackton has a number of police vehicles, mainly normal police patrol cars with the chequered “Battenburg” colour pattern and blue flashing lights and sirens. Many of these are Ford Mondeos but there are also more specialised plain coloured cars, also with blue flashing lights but this time hidden in the grill and on the dashboard.

I am not sure that the police would agree that the lights are “hidden” but they are not as obvious as on the normal patrol cars, so the motto is, keep a watch on what is coming up behind you. Of course I am sure that all ERRoADAR members obey the law and especially speed limits at all times.

Training is also carried out on driving larger vehicles at speed. This is important when groups of officers are being carried in minibuses which are higher off the ground and have a higher centre of gravity.

Our members were split up into groups, although all were eventually shown all the different areas of work. It was a wet evening, steady rain and the cloud cover meant it got dark early. I was in a group who were first shown round the garage with its range of police vehicles.

As well as the cars there are motorcycles including off-road bikes which can be used on the network of leisure trails and walkways around the region. Officers are also trained on pushbikes, which of course also helps with the force’s efforts to keep staff fit and healthy!

I had the opportunity to try the manoeuvring course. I am sorry to say that on a wet dark night with windows steamed up I did not break the course record but I did manage to avoid hitting any of the cones. Of course I am not making excuses but driving through a slalom course of small traffic cones is difficult enough, but reversing through it is well-nigh impossible.

Other group members were taken out, three at a time, by the police instructors on demonstration drives. This involved the instructor  going through the full starting drill before driving on the public road while giving a full commentary. All speed limits must be obeyed and all traffic signs observed and as soon as restricted areas are left behind, the vehicle is brought up to the national speed limit to ensure good progress.

This of course must be done taking full account of weather and road conditions, using the system of car control, and observing and commenting on limit points.

Finally, we all assembled in one of the meeting rooms where coffee and biscuits were available while we chatted to the instructors and asked questions.

Carol thanked the police in general and the officers present in particular for their very helpful and informative presentation, and with this we all agreed.
   
IAN MORTON          
12/09/2012