Blog : The strong arm of the law

Keith Adams

Jaguar XF police car
Jaguar XF police car

There’s nothing better than heading home after an arduous day in the office… and hitting a traffic jam. Half way home, and sat there in the cocooning luxury of my Rover 75 Connoisseur, idling away precious fuel, looking at the rear axle of a twin-axled Ford Transit is not my idea of heaven – even if it means spending time listening to my favourite Podcasts. But as the minutes ticked by, the stress levels were beginning to rise, proportionate with my feeling that I’m unable to do anything about the situation.

So imagine my surprise when I see a silver Jaguar XF screaming its blues ‘n’ twos as it streaked down the other side of the road, doubtless on its way to some emergency or another. I smile crossed my face, as I whispered to myself, ‘well done Jaguar’. I know it’s sad, but I love seeing the emergency services using British-made products, and believe that in its own way, it’s important for our carmakers to have their products chosen over and above their imported counterparts – as long as they are good enough.

Where I live – in Middle England – our traffic police cars (certainly since I moved here in 1998) have always been BMWs and Volvos. That was a little bit of a culture shock after growing up in Rover and Vauxhall loving Lancashire. So after years of our roads being patrolled by X5s and 5-series saloons and Tourings, our local police purchasers seem to have changed their allegiances for Range Rovers and Jaguar XFs. The panda cars are also Ellesmere Port built Vauxhall Astras, which is also a good sign.

I’ve always been of the belief that although no one likes being followed by a police car, and certainly wouldn’t like to see the inside of one, we’re reassured when we see them out and about patrolling our roads. And I’ve always thought that it’s a great piece of rolling publicity for any manufacturer when people see their cars upholding the strong arm of the law. If only we’d had more of this in years gone by – but I suspect there’s more to the police car buying process than simply choosing what looks best in your local constabulary’s livery.

Looks good, doesn't it?
Looks good, doesn’t it?
Keith Adams


  1. Cheshire East have taken to using Hyundias 🙁

    Not sure if the highways officers have to stump up TWELVE POUNDS each to get a discount on them or not – I shall ask…

  2. A twin axled Transit eh Keith- now there is a mechanical oddity! 😈

    I know what you meant…

    Anyway, good to see the ol’ Blues and Twos on a proper British car. Must be decades since I saw a Jag police car. Hope Gloucestershire get some. At the moment they seem to mostly use BMWs for traffic cars, and Ford Focuses seem to be most popular for patrols. There was an Evo on the fleet at one point but I suspect that may have been a loan car for evaluation purposes (still, would certainly have the edge over an XF for rural roads).

  3. Never understood why The Old Bill go for Range Rovers, when a Disco will do the same job, and at a few grand of tax payers money less.
    Skodas I always think would make a good patrol car – Superb TDi 170 estate has presence, but with a sensible image (think V70 or Omega), isproven technology, and is tough as old boots, and also reasonably cheap.

  4. Down here in Kent, the Skoda Octavia 4×4 is the weapon of choice for the police, followed by Fabia estates as the patrol cars.

  5. I once saw an XJ40 police car. There was a PC badge on the boot next to the offside lights. It was in Aberdeen sometime in the early 1990s.

  6. Ah, I remember a few stories: From a conversation I had with someone who used to liaise with Essex police 15 years ago for example – They needed to update their fleet of motorbikes and a BMW rep came down with a demo bike and an information pack – at the time they were the current supplier.

    Apparently, Honda also came down with a fleet of Pan-Europeans and a few reps to answer any questions. One of which was to do with parts back-up. The BMW rep effectively said “It doesn’t break down” – great. Yet Honda, pointing out it’s reliability also mentioned that parts anywhere in the country were to be made available in no more than 7 hours with a target of less than 1 hour and if they weren’t available, they were guaranteed to be flown from Japan in available within 24 hours. Now remember this was the 90’s.. Who do you think got the contract?

  7. The boys in blue up in Lancashire have a few British-built cars. The Vauxhall Astra, Land Rovers (Freelander, Discovery and the Range Rover) and the Ford Transit. Though I do remember Merseyside using Jaguar X-Types.

    But they are using other cars such as the BMW estates and the Hyundai i30 estate. The Mitsubishi Shogun and the Toyota Land Cruiser are also used by Plod as well.

  8. i’ve heard them called worse……

    …usually when they are hiding in a bush stuck to the handle of a radar gun.

  9. Northumbria Police use Vauxhall Astras (inc current model), Volvo S60, BMW SUVs and some Ford S Max for dog handlers. A few MK2 Focus still exist, but mainly majoring on Astras. Transits & Transit Connects used also.

  10. Plod here is 100% Ford for ‘panda’ cars (diesel Focus estate), dog vehicles are Mondeos, traffic is a mixture of Volvo V70s & BMW 4×4’s , and unmarked, well, BMW 3 series, Skoda Octavia vRS estate & hatch, Audi A6….

  11. Here in merseyside we look after our own, hence we have abandoned locally produced Astra’s from the new secure plant in ellesmere port by having hyundai patrol cars..
    Of course the police along with other public servents will be wanting the support of local tax payers at some point..

  12. Up here in Fife the traffic boys use BMW 5-Series diesels. In Perth & Kinross they run Volvo V70s. The panda cars in Fife are Corsas(!), further north they seem to run Focuses.

  13. Forgot to say that Northumbria still have Volvo V70s too. I’m surprised that Mersey Police are using Hyundai rather than Astra’s – it beggars belief.

    Having said that, the MOD have ordered new RFA supply tankers from Korean shipyards… that is ” British Royal Navy vessels getting built by foreign yards” – never thought I would see that in my lifetime.

  14. It used to surprise me to see 5 series on the beat in Fife.

    PSNI still have a fair few bulletproof glassed mk1 Vectras on the go. And the usual fleet of armoured Land Rover defenders (including a new batch last year).
    They used to like bulletproofed Sierras, Mondeos, Cavaliers back in the day.

    Normal policing they like their Octavias, mk2 Vectras and Focus estates. There are a few new Astras going about too, something that would not have previously been seen.
    SUV-wise (other than the armoured Landies) bulletproof Shogun Sports (as seen lent to England in the Raoul Moat standoff incident) and a few new Discoveries.

    Good to see English police using English cars though. I remember the start of the Police:Stop tapes, showed generations of beat cars, from early Rovers to P5, P6, SD1 to 800.

  15. I actually saw a 12 plate Disco in full ‘battenburg’ sat on Woodbridge Road in Ipswich today. Makes a change from the usual X5

  16. Just to extend the Hyundai line, did you know that the MOD have taken 550 Kia cee’ds this year?

    Thought not.

  17. Greater manchester police have started using hyundai i30 estates,presumably for low CO2,and beggers cant be choosers in these austere times-to complement vectra V6 turbos and BMW 330 turbos,and ice cream van-not joking.

  18. Police cars / mile of road here is quite low, and I rarely see one.
    And when they are all liveried up, what with the silhouettes being so similar on so many cars I really don’t know what they drive any more.

  19. Hi During the late 196Os (early seventies) I served as a Police Officer with Newcastle City Police, (England),.. (later amalgamated to Northumbria Constable) I drove a blue coloured Hillman Imp, they were great ‘nippy’ little cars for buzzing around the City Streets particularly back lanes and smallish roads. They were always well maintained by Police mechanics and rarely suffered breakdowns. Happy memories of the imps who served both the Police and general public well during those long past happy days.

  20. Essex Police use Evo’s, Scoobies’ and Insignia VXR’s on the roads policing amongst many others, all of these are contributions toward the reason why Essex Police has on of the world’s best interception units, not forgetting the highly trained officers. There is the whole fleet of Essex Police patrol cars on my website.

  21. Cumbna Constabulary recently ditched their Ford Focus patrol cars in favour of using vans. Some of these are Ford and Peugeot, but there are some British made Vivaros on the roads. Traffic, on the rare occasions you see them, use BMW 5 series estates and Hyundai Tucsons.
    Go back to the eighties and CC used a variety of British badged vehicles. Vans were mostly Leyland Sherpas and Ford Transits, patrol cars were either Austin Metros or Ford Fiestas, and traffic used Ranger Rovers, Mark 2 Granadas and later on, Sierra Cosworths. Also they bought a pair of Talbot Tagoras in 1982 that didn’t last long( maybe too wide).

  22. On the subject of ditching Ford Focus cars……over the last couple of years Nottinghamshire Police have stopped using Focuses as their all-purpose runabout and started using Astras. They hadn’t used anything Vauxhall since Omegas in the 90s.

  23. I can remember the Vauxhall Chevette being used by Northumbria Police and South Yorkshire until about 1988. These seemed to be run out models on Y and A plates, and both forces probably got a very good deal from Vauxhall, who were phasing out the Chevette. Also a simple, reliable and economical small car was something the police would enjoy for basic patrol work.

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