Road Policing Unit

Road Policing Unit

The Road Policing Unit (RPU) is the term for the traffic unit within the majority of all British police forces.


RPUs work with the National Roads Policing Strategy, which has five strands:

* Casualty reduction.
* Counter-terrorism.
* Reducing anti-social use of the roads.
* Denying criminals the use of the roads.
* Public reassurance by high visibility patrolling of the road network.

RPU officers are responsible for patrolling the main motorways and large roads throughout the territorial police force area. In addition to their general road policing duties, they assist with various operations aimed at improving road safety and are also at the forefront in tackling vehicle crime and the criminal use of the roads network. They are also available to back up other units, as they are constantly roaming an area as part of their high visibility patrolling work.

A sub-unit of the RPU is the Collision Investigation Unit (CIU) or Forensic Collision Investigation and Reconstruction Unit (FCIRU), which exists to manage the follow-up investigations into all fatal and very serious collisions. The specially-trained teams attend the scenes of all such incidents, where, amongst other things, they take numerous measurements of the final layout of the scene and examine vehicles, all in a bid to piece together the cause of the crash.


Alcohol test equipment

Breathalysers were introduced in 1967 as a result of the Road Safety Act 1967.


The ProViDa In Car Video System is fitted to both marked and unmarked traffic patrol cars and motorcycles with the aim of improving driver behaviour and road safety. It is used to detect traffic offences and to educate, advise and, if necessary, prosecute offenders.

Components of the system:

* Colour video camera with pan and zoom control in the front and back.
* Video data generator which records date and time.
* Police pilot speed detection device and speed indicator (recording both police, and other vehicles speed).
* Mobile VHS video cassette recorder with a remote control unit. VHS is now being replaced with Digital Hard Driver Recorders or DVD recording systems.
* Two liquid crystal display colour monitors, one each for front and rear seat occupants.

Whilst on patrol, a police officer who observes a blatant offence or an example of bad driving can record the incident on tape. Once they have stopped the driver concerned, they can then invite the motorist to sit in the police car, where the incident is replayed. A motorist can request a copy of the video evidence should the matter be dealt with at court.

Depending on the circumstances of the offence, the motorist can then be advised regarding their driving, cautioned or prosecuted, when the video recording can be used in court if necessary.

JAI PROVIDA 2000 is a sophisticated in-car video and speed enforcement system for 24-hour detection of traffic offences and criminal acts. System recordings can be used in court as visual evidence, including reconstruction of events.


VASCAR (Visual Average Speed Computer And Recorder) is a technology for determining the speed of a moving vehicle. It is used by police officers to catch speeding motorists. These devices are mounted on a patrol car's console, allowing the officer easy access to its controls. Many main roads in the UK now have horizontal lines of about two feet in length painted on the carriageway, which allow the VASCAR system to be calibrated.

VASCAR units were first fitted to police vehicles in the mid-1970s.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)

The Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system is housed in a mobile unit. Both colour and infrared cameras are used to capture images of vehicle number plates as they pass by. The index number is read automatically and checked against a number of databases (including DVLA) held on computer.

If a match is made to a vehicle of police interest, the ANPR operator receives an alarm. The operator can then alert other officers to stop the vehicle. The process from reading the number plate to an alarm notification takes less than two seconds.

ANPR technology is available commercially and is being adopted by many businesses as a means of fighting crimes such as petrol station drive-offs and credit card fraud. There are other applications such as improved security in car parks.


Most commonly used vehicles are Volvo V70 T5, Vauxhall Omega, BMW 5 Series(2006) and Vauxhall Vectra, frequently in estate variants. BMW X5, Range Rover and Land Rover Discovery, together with the occasional Mercedes ML, Nissan, Toyota or other 4x4s are also commonplace. Large vans such as the Iveco Daily or Mercedes-Benz Sprinter can be seen at major collisions.

These vehicles are fitted with Airwave radio communications system and some with the TRACKER stolen vehicle recovery system.

Equipment carried by vehicles includes;

* Traffic cones (usually sixteen in 4x4s and ten in estate cars)
* Cone lamps
* Signs (usually ten, consisting of four "accident" signs, two "slow" signs, two divert arrow signs, one "use hard shoulder", and "rejoin main carriageway")
* Groundsheet
* Tow ropes and shackles (4x4s only)
* Fire extinguisher
* Crowbar
* Hacksaw
* Axe
* Broom
* Shovel
* Industrial gloves
* Torch
* First aid kit
* Resuscitation kit
* Infectious diseases protection kit
* Space blankets
* Water container
* "stinger" tyre deflation unit
* Teddy bear to console a distraught child after an accident
* Breathalyzer kit to detect the presence of alcohol in an individual's breath
* ST2000 speed "gun"


Traffic officers wear a white-topped patrol cap, or a white-topped bowler for female officers. When traffic departments were first set up the officers were issued with long white coats. The first hi-visibility coats were day-glo orange, but since the late 1970s the preference has been for day-glo saffron yellow. Traffic Officers receive the same training as non-traffic officers in public order duties but are trained to a much higher standard in automobile control.

Motorway police

Most territorial police forces established traffic departments in the early 1950s, although the first was established by the Metropolitan Police Service in 1919, but it was with the opening of the M1 motorway in November 1959 that the need for the police to have a specialist department dedicated to policing the new roads was recognised. The 1960s saw the start of construction of new motorways, so the traffic departments grew. One of the first fatal accidents on the M1 occurred near Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire in December 1959.

Central Motorway Police Group

The Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG) was started in 1990 by a partnership of West Midlands Police and West Mercia Constabulary; they were joined in 2001 by Staffordshire Police and Warwickshire Police of which withdrew in 2007. Each force maintains a separate RPU for non-motorway work.

Traffic police in different forces

outh Wales Police

South Wales Police opened a motorway section when the M4 motorway reached its area in 1977. Its traffic department was established by its predecessor, Glamorgan Constabulary, in 1952.

urrey Police

Surrey Police is responsible for the policing of part of the M25, the M23, Hooley to Pease Pottage and the M3 Sunbury to the Hampshire border. From a trio of traffic bases, at Godstone M25 junction 6, Chertsey M25 junction 11 and Burpham near Guildford on the A3. Surrey uses Volvo V70 Estates, Land Rover Discoveries and Range Rovers as its main traffic vehicles, with a variety of other types and unmarked vehicles at their disposal.

Lancashire Constabulary

Lancashire Constabulary maintains a Motorway Unit Base at Samlesbury, near Preston, at the junction of the M6 (Junction 31) and A59. Following the introduction of the Highways Agency Traffic Officers in the North West region 2006, Lancashire Constabulary's Motorway Unit was scaled down, now maintaining a minimum level of resources. Lancashire Constabulary's Road Policing Units are based throughout the county within divisions - usually working alongside Geographic Response Patrols (GSPs). Many of the RPU Motorcyclists are now tasked with Automated Number Plate Reader (ANPR) duties. The RPU ANPR team for Southern Division is based at Penwortham Police Station.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP)

GMP is responsible for 281 miles (450.7 km) of Motorway, these include:

* A6144(M) Carrington Spur - Single Carriageway
* A627(M)
* A666 Saint Peters Way, Bolton
* M6 between junctions 22 (Cheshire) to junction 27 (Lancashire)
* M56 between junction 1 (Princess Parkway) to border with Cheshire near to junction 6
* M58 from M6 for 1 km to the Lancashire Border
* M60 (including link between junction 18 and junction 12 of the M62)
* M602
* M62 between junction 22 (West Yorkshire) to junction 11 (Cheshire)
* M61 from Junction 1 to the border with Lancashire near to junction 6
* M66
* M67

The RPU of GMP operates liveried four wheel drive BMW X5's, which replaced the Range Rovers in 2007. It also uses liveried Volvo V70s, 3 series BMW'S and Vauxhall VXR Vectra's as well as un-liveried vehicles.

Each RPU contains its own dedicated police motorcycle wing, which uses both road and off road motorcycles.

The Force Motorway Control is at Force Headquarters at Chester House.

Area 6 Road Policing Unit is based at Birch Services on the M62 whilst Area RPU is based at Peel Green. N division RPU is based at Whitefield Police Station but will be moving to the new Bury Ground Police station when it has been built. [Bury Times 06.06.2007] The Force RPU also operates the Tactical Vehicle Crime Unit.

See also

* Highway patrol
* Police car

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Road Crime Unit — is a term used to describe pro active units derived from traffic policing departments in the United Kingdom. Road Crime Unit Officers is a branch of the Criminal Intelligence Department (CID) that only investigates crimes related to motor… …   Wikipedia

  • Road Wars (TV series) — Infobox British television show name = Road Wars caption = format = Reality picture format = PAL (576i), HD (1080i) audio format = Stereo, Dolby Digital runtime = 45 mins approx. creator = Bill Rudgard, Steve Warr country = UK language = English… …   Wikipedia

  • unit — noun 1 single thing ADJECTIVE ▪ large, small ▪ basic, fundamental ▪ The family is the basic unit of society. ▪ discrete, individu …   Collocations dictionary

  • Aviation Security Operational Command Unit — The Aviation Security Operational Command Unit (CO18) is a Central Operations unit of London s Metropolitan Police Service, which is responsible for providing law enforcement and security for both Heathrow and London City airports. London s other …   Wikipedia

  • Police Support Unit (UK) — A Police Support Unit or PSU is a unit of police officers who have undergone specialist training in public order policing. Police Support Unit training in the United Kingdom is voluntary tactical training undertaken by selected candidates that… …   Wikipedia

  • Tactical Vehicle Crime Unit — is a unit set up as part of Greater Manchester Police s Road Policing Unit (RPU) to combat vehicle crime in the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester in North West England.The TVCU was featured on the BBC One documentary Car Wars in 2006 and… …   Wikipedia

  • Firearms unit — A firearms unit is a specialised, armed unit within each territorial police force in the United Kingdom. [ [ 03.htm Metropolitan Police Force s Firearms Unit ] ] For the most part, the police forces of the …   Wikipedia

  • Metropolitan Police Traffic Criminal Justice Unit — The Traffic Criminal Justice Unit is a Operational Command Unit of the London Metropolitan Police, separate from the Traffic Operational Command Unit. The unit deals with all Met traffic prosecutions involving summonses. It also processes all… …   Wikipedia

  • Transport Operational Command Unit — The Transport Operational Command Unit (TOCU or CO17 from its Central Operations designation) is a unit of the London Metropolitan Police that polices buses, bus routes, taxis and minicabs. It does not police national railways in London, London… …   Wikipedia

  • Police K-9 Unit (Singapore) — The Police K 9 Unit ( zh. 警犬组), formerly the Police Dog Unit (PDU) [ [ soc.htm Singapore Police Force SPF Annual ] ] is a specialist force of the Singapore Police Force (SPF) under the direct command …   Wikipedia