PPE not PPI is the acronym under discussion here.

Every police officer is equipped with PPE, otherwise known as Personal Protective Equipment. When responding to an incident, particularly if it is expected to be of a violent nature, the control room or the officer’s supervisor will ask the attending officer if they have possession of their “full PPE.”  Generally they will be in possession of the whole lot so they can minimise the risk of injury to themselves and facilitate the arrest of a violent offender.

Personal Protective equipment includes a police radio, body armour, utility belt, baton, handcuffs, CS or Pepper spray and in some cases a helmet (although these tend not to be worn or carried today by officers in many forces throughout the country).

I am often asked whether or not detectives have access to PPE items.  They are issued with the same equipment as their uniformed colleagues.  The differences are that their baton tends to be smaller and carried more discreetly in a harness rather than on a utility belt and the incapacitant spray may well be carried in a pocket rather than a pouch on a utility belt.  Also, detectives tend to leave their equipment at the office, safe in the knowledge that if they attend a potentially violent incident, they can call upon their uniformed colleagues to deal with the matter for them.  A detective will rarely go alone or in pairs to arrest a violent subject.  It wouldn’t be safe. Instead, they co-opt the services of one or more uniformed officers.  In many cases, the sight of an officer in uniform can be enough to discourage a suspect from acting violently.  In other cases, the sight of a police uniform can be as bad as the proverbial “red rag to a bull.”

Most detectives will carry their police radio rather than rely on a mobile telephone.  The radio gives them instant access to the control room, their colleagues and help if they need it.  The signal is more reliable than that of a mobile telephone  and the communications are encrypted.

Officers can only carry and use a baton, handcuffs and incapacitant spray if they have been trained in their use and have refreshed their skills on a training course recently (usually every 12 to 24 months).  Officers are not routinely authorised to take their PPE home as the baton cuffs and spray are classed as offensive weapons that they are only allowed to carry whilst on duty.

Are your officers going to be carrying their PPE or will they either forget to pick it up or decline to carry it for reasons such as the body armour is heavy and cumbersome.

You can find more information about their use by following the links in the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers.  You can also check out many more facts about policing in 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police.

218 Fact CoverBPCD Cover


  1. J E Ellard says:

    Hi Kevin,

    It’s me again. I want first of all to express my thanks for the 218 facts kindle book, I am greatly enjoying snatching a few minutes now and again.

    I have taken up two of your suggestions, one as mentioned before, of letting the killer appear much earlier, and playing the role of a clergyman. (Since writing earlier on this, I have read Agatha Christie’s “The killing of Roger Ackroyd.” which follows a similar pattern.

    The second is a case of blackmail against the ACC (Crime) who is unable to call his bluff as her husband is a very high ranker in the Met and who is already “skating on thin ice” and could not afford to be involved in another messy situation.

    Many thanks for both those suggestions.

    However, the more I read, the more I want to pick your brains. I hope you do not mind. Here are a few queries.

    1. Is your book available in printed form. I could then use scraps of paper as bookmarks rather than laboriously typing memos which always seem to get lost somewhere in the depths of kindle.

    2. What would be the normal rank of the person/s manning the control. Would it be up to him/her to decide on what level of response is despatched, or, for a major incident would he have to refer it up the ladder?

    3. How do officers (of any rank) find out about vacancies either in their own force’s area or that of other forces?

    4. Having established that a vacancy exists, how would they apply. Letter/application form or orally

    5. Having established that an applicant has passed the necessary OSPRE and Pip levels, are any promotions made after the force concerned has asked for recommendations from another force.

    6. Normally I would expect promotions to be from one rank to the next. Does it ever happen that someone moves two or more steps up the ladder. This applies particularly in my chosen county, Devon and Cornwall where they no longer promote to DCI. I would not wish to promote a fictional character from Inspector to Superintendent In Devon, if it has never happened before.

    7. and lastly, Would an ACC (Crime) have any involvement in day to day investigations or would it be left almost entirely to the DCS and his team/s.

    Again my apologies for taking up so much of your time. If ever I get any of my stories published (I am now on the fourth) I would be delighted to send you a copy.

    Best wishes,

    Eric Ellard


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