Police training college visit
May 2012

Organised by the group, a small number of us went to the Scottish Police Training School at Tulliallan. While all aspects of police work are dealt with there, our visit was to the Road Policing Division.

Met with a cup of teaThere were 6 of us present that evening and I can confirm that we were all let out again at the end of the session.

We were met by our two instructors, Al and Dave, who began by explaining some of the background to their unit’s particular part of police work at Tulliallan.

The unit began in the early 1960’s as the Traffic Division and the cars they used were Jaguars, just like the one owned by Inspector Morse. Over the years the name and emphasis has changed as the unit grew in size but the very best and highest qualified instructors are still very proud to be awarded the “Jaguar” tiepin which they wear on all possible occasions.

Nowadays a wide variety of vehicles are used by the Road Policing Division to reflect the range of vehicles used by forces tThe group inspect a jam sandwich in battenburg liveryhroughout Scotland, from 4wd for police in rural areas to saloon cars in urban streets. The ones at Tulliallan do not carry the range of equipment carried by patrol cars but they do retain the sirens and flashing lights and the colour scheme of police cars we all see on the streets.

The cars are ex-police vehicles from the Scottish Forces and are mainly BMW 3 and 5 series and Volvos. By the time they are passed to Tulliallan they have done high mileages but these makes can stand up to the demands made of them. Other cars in the fleet such as 4wd ones are used for other aspects of training. The unit employs its own mechanics to service and maintain the fleet.

Police Volvo with grill lights going
Road Policing training covers all areas of police work, identifying and prosecuting crime, protecting VIP’s, setting up road blocks, deploying “stingers” to stop wanted criminals and pursuit driving but at all times the emphasis is on safety and minimising the risk of injury to themselves and other road users. They also assist in investigating road accidents by advising on road alignment, signs, camber, road surface treatment etc. This is very important in rural areas where accidents can often be fatal.

Both hands on the wheel at all times, commentray in full flowFollowing the short session in the classroom, we were split into 2 groups. It was explained that one group would start with a demonstration of a full “blue flashing lights and 2 tone horn” (Blues & Twos) run,while the other group would have a demonstration focusing on the standard the police are expected to drive to. After about half an hour, the two groups would meet for a short discussion then the roles would be reversed for the run back to Tulliallan. Both vehicles would be fully police liveried volvos.

Our instructor performed a full commentary drive right from the start. Every element of the starting drill, as laid out in the Police Driving Manual, was quoted verbatim. He did not hesitate or stutter or say “eh, um” or miss a word. We sat while he told us to check our door using the pull-push method and confirm to him that we had done so and we did not put on our seat belts until he told us to do so.

As we moved off he Proof that it can be fun to be a passenger in a police cardid the “Today as all days” set piece followed by the description of the car he was driving, moving brake test, everything. As I was due to sit my retest the following week I was awestruck by his abilities.

I was also awestruck by his driving abilities. Making maximum safe progress through built-up areas and open roads while keeping up a full commentary, describing every road sign, noting by the actions and vehicle position of every preceding and oncoming vehicle what the driver was about to do, and all this while changing the note of the 2tone horn to suit people’s ability to hear it as we moved from heavy traffic to more sparse traffic. This can not be easy.
Mirror, offside mirror
The run back to Tulliallan was also very efficient and assured but, since we used no flashing lights and siren, the drive was more in keeping with the sort of standard we as civilian advanced drivers aspire to attain.

I learned a lot from the visit and I would recommend that anyone who gets the opportunity to go to Tulliallan should take it and like me be very impressed by the whole operation and by the enthusiasm and ability of the instructors.

IAN MORTON          

By way of an aside I can confirm that I passed my retest.