Everyone needs a helping hand, not least the police forces around the country who are trying to combat crime in our regions. This article will look at how policing has embraced and made use of technology in the UK over the years.
In earlier Victorian times, police officers would use rattles to raise the alarm when they needed assistance. These heavy aids were replaced by the more highly audible whistle in 1884. Whistles had not long been in use when they were adopted by police. The first has been blown by a referee during an 1878 sporting event. After being invented by an English toolmaker, the whistle was subsequently used during a Nottingham Forest Soccer Club match instead of using the signal of waving a handkerchief.
In the 1970s, police radios were first introduced across the UK. Two-way radios had first been used in Bayonne, New Jersey as early as 1933. They connected the Police Department there to 9 patrol vehicles. Now all police officers radio rather than whistle for assistance.
In 1913, an Arrol Johnton car made its debut for the Bedfordshire force. Currently, UK police use BMWs, noting them to be a high-speed vehicle which can quickly reach armed situations. The police also use Vauxhalls as another preferred vehicle. Undercover police cars tend to be black. Whether the thinking is that they will not be seen so well in the dark is something one would have to ask them, as all motorists at night are required to switch their lights on, anyway.
The fastest police car in the UK is a £240,000 police logo emblazoned supercar built by F1’s McLaren. It is capable of a top speed of 207mph and can manage 0-60mph in under 3 seconds. So, this is invaluable in being able to travel faster than any car a known suspect is likely to be driving.
In 1967, with a drink-drive limit having become law, the breathalyzer was introduced. This innovation was able to test an individual’s blood alcohol concentration at roadsides. It was in January 1966 that the Road Safety Bill was introduced, which set a limit of 80mg of alcohol per 100cc of blood and made it an offence to drive over that limit. This made the breathalyzer a useful aid to quickly establish accurately whether a person had been drink driving before making an arrest. Previously, suspects had been given sobriety tests, which usually involved them walking in a straight line to establish how drunk they might be.
Police not only have to stop criminals on foot but also in cars. The perfect answer to this was the development of what is called a “stinger”. The PROSpike model has attached to it 96 hollow spikes. When a suspect vehicle drives over these spikes, in trying to make their escape at speed, the spikes penetrate and deflate the tyres of their vehicle. If it is even their vehicle that they are driving. Many getaway cars are stolen by assailants so that they cannot be linked to their crimes. Or, of course, stealing the car might be the crime. Whatever the reason for the police chase, “stingers” are the quickest way to end one.
It might sound like a drink, but this device delivers a rather debilitating electric shock. It is illegal for a member of the public to own a taser because it is strictly classed as a weapon. A taser is a CEW. That is, a conducted electrical weapon. It works by firing its two small electrodes to deliver an electric current which will disrupt a suspects voluntary control of their muscles. This is termed “neuromuscular incapacitation”. This new technology was to replace the conventional methods of truncheon throwing and leg swiping which would aim to stop an assailant in their tracks.
Tasers were first developed in the mid-1970s by American Jack Cover and are an acronym of Tom A. Swift Electronic Rifle. The Tom Swift books talk about an inventor of amazing gadgets. Taser is the brand name as these devices are manufactured by Taser International.
So, with many devices at the disposal of the police, this should go some way to making the UK, and every other country using similar technology, a safer place.