It costs a lot of money to train a recruit to become a police officer, so where savings can be made they are.  Whilst it isn’t essential that a person holds a full driving licence to be eligible to join the police, it is, however, an advantage to hold one, as it may be one of the criteria used to sift out applicants when there has been a large response to a recruitment campaign.

A student police officer who doesn’t hold a driving licence is not an effective unit.  They can only be deployed on foot patrols or office/admin duties unless they accompany an officer who can drive or are chauffeured about.

Their opportunities to experience a wide range of incidents are also limited by being a non-driver.  Therefore, they may be less competent than their driving peers.

Those recruits that do hold a full driving licence may (subject to a force’s policies) be able to drive a police vehicle more or less, from day one of their service.  Upon either completing a course or passing a test, they may become a “Response” officer, meaning that they can drive at speed with blue lights flashing and siren sounding.  Without being an approved response driver, they will not be permitted to drive to an emergency incident at speed.

Depending on the size of a police force and their policies, there may be further driving courses for an officer to attend and pass.  These may include van, surveillance, traffic and motorway driving as well as motorcycle riding courses.  Each one requires the officer to either pass a test or successfully complete a course for that type of vehicle or role.

Some forces have their own driving schools, staffed by police officers, civilian staff or a mixture of both.  Smaller forces may send their officers to another force driving school/training unit.

Only a few forces in the country have the capability to deliver “T-PAC” training, which is Tactical Pursuit And Containment driving that teaches officers how to safely bring a pursuit to a successful conclusion by eventually boxing a vehicle in so that it cannot continue to be driven.

As things currently stand, a police officer can be prosecuted for the manner of their driving, even when trying to uphold the law.

The Home Office under Sajid Javid, plans to change the law so that highly trained police drivers are allowed to pursue suspects,  whether in or on a vehicle, without fear of being prosecuted for driving contrary to the standard expected of everyday drivers. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/may/02/sajid-javid-proposes-legal-protection-for-police-who-crash-cars

What police officers do you have in your stories?  Are they required to be trained drivers and if so, at what level?  Does their ability or lack of it to drive at certain level create problems or conflict in your story?

Is your SIO off duty and too drunk to drive so needs picking up and taking to a crime scene but the only officer available to assist happens to be a non-driver?  How will your SIO react?

For more insight into police driving standards, methods and experiences, the following TV documentaries are worth watching-

Motorway Cops (BBC1)

Police Interceptors (Channel 5)

Sky Cops (BBC1)

Traffic Cops (BBC1)

Don’t forget to get your very own copy of the following guides, if you haven’t already, by clicking on the images below and watch out for the release of the forthcoming Writer’s Guide to UK Police Custody and Cell Procedures.

A Writer's Guide to Senior Investigating Police Officers in the UK by [Robinson, Kevin N.]218 Fact Cover

BPCD 2016 Cover on Amazon

 

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Comments
  1. rolandclarke says:

    Another invaluable post. My Welsh detective is a biker off-duty but was trained by motorcycle cops on her PC dad’s recommendation. So, I use this fact – especially as her partner is also a biker and a detective.

    Like

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