Traffic Pursuit and Containment (TPAC)

1992: Shane Burrows: Traffic Pursuit and Containment: TPAC came out of a very hairy pursuit at Godstone, in which Paul McElroy was involved. I recall we had cars damaged and were lucky not to have had anyone (Police, civilian or the villains) injured.

Consequently Paul told me Sussex had a pursuit system that was worth looking at, so I sent him to look at it. We obviously could not continue the dangerous chases or officers would get hurt. After looking at Sussex, Paul thought we could do better, and with the driving school TPAC was born.

My main battle was to get it accepted by the Force, and in particular that we should do the training live on running roads. Some wanted it done off road. The course and skills as developed by Surrey was so good that we sold it to the rest of the country, via the National Motorway Conference, (my job) and ACPO Traffic (Chief Constable's job). This resulted in us becoming the lead training force, training all the trainers at a price. Stinger was also incorporated into the system.

I recall getting quite a number of phone calls and letters from the public congratulating us on our skills and good pursuits of villains. Little did they know it was live training! The drivers of the chased car were always arrested, put in a patrol car and whisked away from the scene.

We also sent officers to America to try to sell it to the American forces, at a large conference. Cannot be sure of our success rate, but the boys had a good time.

Chris Farmer: The procedure for stopping vehicles that failed to stop voluntarily that became known as TPAC was developed in Surrey, I believe the leading light in its development, and ultimately its adoption nationally, was Surrey PC 309 Campion-Smith, who, before he transferred to traffic, was one of my D rota officers at Guildford.

Paul McElroy: It all began in the summer of 1992. I was the inspector at Godstone and we were having real problems with what the press had termed 'ram raiders'. These were criminals who used high powered stolen vehicle to crash into shops, steal the goods and make their getaway as quickly as possible. It was a significant problem nationally at the time and Surrey was being hit as well.

Pursuits were going on for longer and the opposition to police intervention was becoming more reckless. DCC Ian Beckett had looked to Traffic for a solution. The existing ACPO policy on pursuits did allow road blocks to be used but only in very exceptional circumstances (on motorways) and in situations were the forward planning was such that, as a tactic, it was virtually unworkable.

In practice the approach was to follow vehicles until they ran out of fuel but they usually crashed first! Pursuits were, therefore, both dangerous and unpredictable (other than knowing they would probably end in a crash) and placed a good deal of pressure on the individual police driver.

I was the inspector at Godstone at the time and it was clear to me that we needed to improve our response and take a more positive stance with these reckless individuals. We needed to introduce the concept of pursuit management by working to a plan and thus take back an element of control. The resolution should be a team effort and involve not only the police driver but the active participation of the Force Control Room.

The solution came out of a chance meeting with a Sussex officer whilst I was picking my daughter up from school. We were discussing the problem and he mentioned a 'Safe Follow' course that Sussex had been running, which was an adaptation of a Devon and Cornwell course. I visited Sussex and was impressed but felt we could build on their training and improve its application.

I then put forward the proposals for Tactical Pursuit and Containment training in Surrey and led on its subsequent development and implementation. The premise was that the police objective should be to resolve a pursuit at the earliest opportunity using agreed tactics. This involved using police cars to contain the subject vehicle and bring it to a halt. The Operations Room would also take a far more active part in pursuit resolution.

The main difference from the existing ACPO guidelines was that the tactics were permissible on any road and could therefore be undertaken with just two police vehicles. The guidelines also allowed for judgements to be made and action taken quickly enough for the tactics to be effective in a dynamic pursuit situation.

These were radical proposals at the time, compounded by the fact that traffic patrol drivers would have to train on public road in 'live' conditions if they were to master the tactics. Despite the proposals falling outside of the existing ACPO guidelines, the DCC approved the package and TPAC was born.

All advanced Traffic drivers were given three days training on the road and, thankfully, any fears that this would present unacceptable risk were unfounded. In fact over three hundred and fifty containments were carried out in the early months with only very minor damage to police vehicles resulting. In fact, an number of letters were received by the Chief Constable from the public (who were unaware that it was not real villains being arrested) applauding the professionalism of officers, one person commenting on how the 'criminal had been removed from the highway with surgical precision'.

Helping deliver the training were PCs Pete Hembury, Neil Armstrong, Chris Campion - Smith and Pete Elliott. TPAC went live in 1993. It was an immediate success and certainly achieved its objectives. There are many specific cases were situations were 'nipped in the bud' that may previously have continued in an uncontrolled and unpredictable way. Inspector Rees Edwards took over its development in 1994, when I left Godstone to take over as the ACPO Traffic Staff Officer.

Over time the use of new devices such as Stinger were incorporated into the tactics and the general principles were also used to underpin the resolution of firearms incidents. In my national role I also had the pleasure of seeing TPAC accepted as ACPO best practice and Surrey going on to train officers from most other forces and TPAC promoted internationally.

As you can probably tell, I'm quite proud of my involvement with it!

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