License to go Nee-Naw Nee-Naw
Whilst perusing other blogs I noticed that on his 18th, December 2005 Blog non-mice (see second link in side-bar) mentioned the subject of all Police officers being unable to pursue suspects in vehicles whilst using the flashing lights and sirens.
Metropolis Constabulary has long had a policy of dictating that successful applicants must have a full UK driving lisence prior to being sworn in. Upon completion of initial training they are then posted to a station whereupon they will never sit in the driver's seat of a Police vehicle for at least the next two years- this increases to anything like 7 years should you work in a city division. This being the minimum time that will pass before you are deigned to be allowed to attend a fortnight driving course. Only upon satisfactory completion of this are you allowed to drive a Polis car. This policy has meant that while there are fewer Police drivers available at any given time they are all capable of undertaking a pursuit should the requirement present itself... which it quite often does, funnily enough!
The problem now though is that with the ever increasing demands on recruiting new officers to fill posts vacated by the outflux of retirees the situation on the ground is that there are no where near enough drivers on each shift- sometimes a shift of maybe six to ten cops may have only one or two Police drivers. To address this growing forcewide problem cops are being told that when they have done 18 months of their probation they areto sit a half day assessment drive. If their driving is up to a reasonable standard then they are allowed to drive pandas without lights or sirens and without breaking any speed limits or failing to obey traffic signs/signals until such time they go on a full drive course.
All of this means that the problem of having too few drivers is circumvented however we are now sat in a similar position to that of officers in English forces who can find themselves in a quandry such as the following scenario:
You have 18 months service, have completed your driving assessment and find yourself behind the wheel of a panda. You work in a rural area where you are the only vehicle not engaged in a call. You see a stolen vehicle which was identified to you during your briefing- the driver of said vehicle drives off at speed.
What do you do? Adhere to the policy and allow the car thief to make good his escape or attempt to keep observations in a chase for which you haven't yet been trained or authorised to undertake?
Time will tell how this policy will pan out but I don't think it will be long before someone finds themselves at the wrong end of a diciplinary charge for making the decision to, heaven forbid, try to catch a baddie.