Police Support Unit (PSU)

1986: Training and deployment: Tom Burrell: I recall around April/May 1986 going on PSU to TNT depot somewhere due to problems with printer workers or something similar. I was a young probationer aged twenty seven and taken with my tutor on the van with Inspector Richard (Oggy) Poulton. It was all a haze, but started me on PSU. I was asked to go on PSU there and then; how could I refuse.

I remember going to Dunsfold for PSU training with the diving team as instructors. The only thing I really remember was barricades and being hit by a metal pole. I also recall health and safety wasn't an issue and several punches were thrown, between the divers and PSU. It was the days of three long shields and the rest had round.

As the "New boy" you got stuck with long shields and if the middle shield, you were communications as well. I thought it was the best place to be, behind the long shields, because they threw missiles over us, at the round shields.

We also went training at Stoughton Barracks at Guildford. This was mostly in the dark and apples were thrown as missiles. We also moved on to the Metropolitan Police PSU training area at Hounslow. This was like a whole new world to us; buildings, streets all purpose built. Showers at the end and we then went to Sunbury section house to stay over night. Most of then went out for a "few" drinks and a curry; breakfast at the section house and back to Hounslow.

PSU was a fantastic break from everyday police work. Some of us were there by choice as we lived and breathed it, but a few were there against there will and were pressed men. I recall if I am right, females didn't come on to PSU for quite a while.

Christian Duckett: The TNT Depot was at West Byfleet by Brooklands, and this was the Rupert Murdock newspaper Sun dispute and part of the Wapping problems with the unions.

Return to main text


Public Order Training

1988: Public Order Training: One of the major problems with the Surrey public order training was the number of injuries suffered. This was partially caused by an excess of enthusiasm of the training staff. The problem was that there were not enough of them properly qualified.

A crash selection and training course was instituted to ensure that there were enough trainers and each injury was thereafter recorded and investigated to obtain learning points to ensure it did not happen again. This type of training could never be risk free. Where large amounts of wood blocks and petrol bombs are being thrown at moving lines or individual police officers sometimes things will go wrong.

The emphasis on preventing injury was well received and with the enthusiasm of the new instructors the numbers hurt fell dramatically. The extra instructors were to have the spin off that they were able to act as tactical advisors for the less experienced and more senior ground commanders during live deployments and of course during exercising.

Training was reorganised using Stoughton Barracks in Guildford to practise clearing buildings, which had long corridors and wide staircases, which gave useful training for simulating the prison environment. Because the buildings had several floors they were also useful for training in dealing with attacks from flats. Great emphasis was given to dealing with the armed, violent and angry man in a confined space. Link the shield party together and crash the man against the wall. Very effective!

Tom Burrell's photo of PSU training at Longmoor 1988

Tom Burrell's photo of PSU
training at Longmoor 1988

Surrey was training for deployment anywhere as the Police Support Unit (PSU) were in a national pool. Longmoor military training area at Liphook was used for the more advanced training using vehicles, full equipment, with petrol bombs and a great deal of throwing wooden blocks at the units. Longmoor was excellent. It was totally secure, as it was a military FIBUA or site for fighting in a built up area.

An area that was once married quarters and had all the appearance of a council estate had been developed for training soldiers for Northern Ireland. Regional training was implemented Surrey would travel to other Force areas to work with the host PSUs in Kent and Sussex and Surrey would host return matches. Visits were also made to train regionally with the Metropolitan Police at their Riot City in Hounslow. This was extreme training and very arduous. Tom Burrell's photo of PSU training at Longmoor 1988

Return to main text



Surrey Constabulary badge