Posted: Thu 22nd Nov 2018

Use of tights to cover NWP unmarked car emergency lights ‘not be ruled out as a contributory factor’ in serious crash

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Nov 22nd, 2018

A serious collision between an unmarked police car and an lorry in North Wales has prompted recommendations from police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) after it was found that the emergency blue lights had been covered with nylon tights

A North Wales Police officer suffered serious injuries when the unmarked police BMW collided with an HGV in a North Wales lay-by in 2016.

The officer had attempted to avoid a light goods vehicle which had moved into his lane on a dual carriageway.

The collision investigation, carried out by North Wales Police, found that the emergency lighting in the front grille of the BMW had been covered with tights to help prevent members of the public identifying it as a police car when the lights were not in use.

The injured officer was not responsible for covering the lights on the car and was not aware that they had been covered.

It was found that there was a significant reduction in the light output with the nylon covers according to both the collision investigator and through tests carried out by a technical expert.

It was also recorded that the nylon covers could not be ruled out as a contributory factor to the collision as they made it extremely difficult for the driver of the light goods vehicle to identify the vehicle behind them as a police car responding to an incident.

National guidance will now be developed to standardise the practice of covering emergency blue lights on unmarked police cars following an IOPC investigation which found there “no case to answer for the officers involved in covering the grille lights.”

The IOPC investigation, which consulted the National Association of Police Fleet Managers, identified that there is no national standardisation for covering lights and, as a result, a number of police forces are using various methods including nylon tights.

Modifications are being made without any form of scientific testing to examine the effect of any coverings on the level of brightness when the emergency lights are turned on. says the IOPC

Director for Wales Catrin Evans said: “When police forces attempt to make unmarked police cars less visible, they need to adopt a standardised approach.

“Any modifications made ought to be tested and approved by experts rather than using ad hoc solutions that may not be the safest method.

For the safety of police drivers and the public alike, testing would also help make sure that any coverings do not significantly limit the visibility of the emergency blue lights when turned on.

 “I’m pleased to see the NPCC has recognised the need to develop this national guidance and has commissioned a working group to produce the new policy.”

The IOPC report says:

“NWP professional standards department became aware of concerns surrounding the collision in February 2017, a year after the incident, and made a voluntary referral that month.

Our investigation concluded in December 2017 since when we have consulted with the NPCC on our national recommendations.

We found no case to answer for the officers involved in covering the grille lights with nylon tights due to the lack of any national policy or guidance. No members of the public were harmed in the collision.”

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