If you watched the first episode of Top Gear's season 11, you likely smirked at the lackluster Vauxhalls that the British bobbies have to drive in pursuit of "the baddies". But once in a while the constables in the UK gets something special in their motor-pools, like the Caparo T1, Lotus Exige, Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 and Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. While few officers have actually had the chance to drive any of these epic exotics since they're used purely for demonstration purposes, the latest addition is here to stay: Prodrive has prepared a fleet of Subaru Impreza GB270s especially for the Automatic Number Plate Recognition Team at the Essex Police department.
Not only did Prodrive set up the vehicle for the team, commonly known as "The Intereptors", but the 21 officers that make up their ranks received a day of special instruction on how to get the most out of their new 270hp all-wheel-drive speed machines. As you can see in the press release after the jump, however, "The day was not about driving these cars fast, but understanding how and when to use their capability in a safe way." Way to make something exciting very boring, guv'na.
Interceptors learn some tricks of the trade
The Essex Police ANPR* team, known as the 'Interceptors', has been taking high performance driving tuition from motorsport specialists, Prodrive.
The 21 members of the Interceptor team, which is being followed by Channel Five TV, underwent a special day's training at the Prodrive Performance Centre in Warwickshire to get to grips with their new high-performance Subaru Impreza GB270s. The new 270 bhp four wheel drive cars, capable of reaching 60 mph in just 5 seconds, recently replaced the Intercept Team's front wheel drive cars. Despite all being professionally trained drivers themselves, the unique handling handling characteristics of four wheel drive performance cars meant the team decided to seek further expert advice and tuition in rally bred car control from Prodrive, which had also developed the special edition GB270.
The tailor-made day started with a theoretical session in the classroom, led by Prodrive's principal vehicle dynamics engineer, where the police were taught the fundamentals of the ride and handling behaviour of different cars. John Gorton, head of transport for Essex Police, said: "This was an important element, ensuring officers understood the theory behind the vehicle's capability. The day was not about driving these cars fast, but understanding how and when to use their capability in a safe way."
This theory was then put into practice on the test track, with Prodrive's instructors first demonstrating the car control techniques unique to high performance four wheel drive vehicles, before the Inteceptors took to the wheel themselves.
"These traffic officers are already professionally trained using the police Roadcraft training manual, so we focussed the day on teaching them the different techniques required in setting up the four wheel drive Impreza for corners, including methods of braking, and how and when to use the traction control system to best effect," said Prodrive chief instructor, Pete Griffiths. "It wasn't about making them faster drivers, but rather ensuring that they could maintain control in all conditions."
Inspector Paul Moor, who manages the Intercept Teams, said: "The officers came away with a much better understanding of how best to use the different driving dynamics of high performance, four wheel drive cars like the Impreza. Our officers' training and driving techniques are based largely on the police Roadcraft manual. What the team at Prodrive showed was just what can be achieved in these cars through the use of driving techniques specific to the vehicles. This has given my officers additional skills and the confidence to safely apply them on the road during a pursuit."
Prodrive will now be training the police driver training instructors in these additional techniques so that they can be included as part of future training where appropriate.
*ANPR – automatic number plate recognition