Monday, September 05, 2005


Tales from the PSU

I mentioned in my previous post that the Police Suport Units(PSUs) evolved slowly but surely into the lean mean fighting machines you see today. When we first started up we had no special uniforms and were transported about in 39 seater coaches. We had special drills for "embussing" and "de-bussing" !! terms evocative of the Service I had not long left - We even marched about in columns of three - a bit military for my taste but we were learning how to be a team so I suppose the old ideas worked ! Our first bit of new kit was a small plastic shield that clipped on to the front of the ordinary helmet - still no velcro straps at this stage. This shield was supposed to protect your eyes if something was thrown at you - that's if the helmet stayed on long enough when you were dodging bits being thrown at you. Then there were the cadets ! - They were employed to be the "enemy" - and really seemed to enjoy their work. When they started slinging things they were really trying to hurt you ! We got more injuries in training than we ever got on the street. The Home Office sent a team to observe our training and they were horrified to find how realistic our training was - Apparantly we were supposed to have tennis balls thrown at us - ??? Big news - Our next installment was the "National" shield The long clip together in three shields. We went to a secret location - RAF Halton - to see the Training team demonstrate these new innovations (not withstanding that most of us were ex Service and all the Army types were used to them - having spent a long time in N Ireland I had seen most of the major cities through the distortion of one of them.) We were lined up to see the demo - a line of three men came out carrying the shields - centre shield plant and left and right clip in. Boot to hold the bottom down and then comes the man with the petrol bomb - throws it at the shield wall - it hits and lo and behold the centre shield starts to disintigrate !! Cue loud jeers from the assembled horde ! It turned out that they had been practicing with these three shields for days and had not read the instructions - They are only good for a few petrol bombs then need replacing. It (as usual) turned out that some of us knew more than the training team about them. On and on - black fireproof suits, Special helmets with bullet proof visors - short shields and long batons,better comms gear, armoured transit vans with grills to stop the bits and pieces thrown at us. A quick diversion into riot city - When the St Paul's riots were on in Bristol, we had similar and large scale race rioting in High Wycombe. We started running at about 6pm and eighteen hours later we were still patrolling. I started driving one of the transits about 9pm and we kept responding all night. Shop fronts going in, cars on fire, general rioting and petrol bombs everywhere ! about 5am I came in to re-fuel with an exhausted group in the back of the van who were asleep even before I stopped by the pumps. The Inspector came over as I was falling asleep whilst holding the hose. "How long have you been driving Mog?" says he "Can't remember" says me. "Go and get a cuppa and a rest for a bit. This is going on for a while longer and I shall need the whole PSU in a couple of hours as we are going to do a sweep through the Octogon". Exit Mog stage left to canteen - finds the rest of PSU stacked in heaps on floor, arm chairs etc, all flaked out ! Five minutes later Station Alarm goes. All suddenly awake and running whilst getting into gear. Down stairs at ramming speed - "What's up ??" someone shouts "Mog's transit has been hit by a petrol bomb, smashed through the grill and front screen- don't think it went off but Mog obviously got a face full of petrol and glass !!" "Aaaaah Mog what are you doing here ???!!" Still dazed and confused I said, "I got relieved 10 minutes ago, Mickys driving" The Inspector had forgotton to update the vehicle board (no computers in those days!!) Took a while to convince everyone that I was ok and it was poor old Micky in Wycombe General getting petrol washed out of his eyes and pieces of glass removed from his physog !When it all settled down late on Sunday evening and we stopped and managed to sort it all out, it appeared that Micky had finished filling the van, loaded fresh troops and out of the Nick down the overpass, round into Frogmoor and straight into a petrol bomb. There but for the grace of the Inspector went I !! I don't think he ever forgave me for that

With your Northern Ireland training you might have just run the bloke over? probably better it was Micky..

PSU/riot training is something I never did in TA or police. I've seen and heard about the training. Sounds like a laugh...until you get slabs of concrete thrown at you for real...

The terms still havnt changed, they still de-bus..I pottered past RAF Halton on the weekend on my bike. Was lovely weather.
Luckily I was too tired to even think about it at the time !!
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