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K-9 Kodiaq: Skoda SUV fit for police dog duties

Skoda Kodiaq joins police dog fleet

The Skoda Kodiaq is the latest vehicle to get the police dog unit paw-print of approval. Canine teams will now have the option to order the Kodiaq SUV as a dog vehicle, following its conversion and certification.

The car features two air-conditioned dog kennels with temperature monitoring. They’re built into the back of the canine-friendly Skoda Kodiaq. There is also a front escape hatch with drop glass built into each kennel. The conversion is a collaboration with the Policing Authority, and adheres to Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) standards.

Skoda Kodiaq joins police dog fleet

“We know police dogs play a pivotal role in an emergency service response; therefore, they need an environment that provides the appropriate level of safety and comfort to get them to and from an emergency,” said Henry Williams, head of fleet, Skoda UK.

“The versatile Kodiaq police dog vehicle has all of the necessary features to ensure police dogs are well looked after when going about their vital work.”

Skoda Kodiaq joins police dog fleet

The usual blue-light conversion treatment applies, too. That means 360-degree service lighting and an engine run lock system. The latter allows the car to run, while locked, without the key in the ignition, to maintain power to the lights, sirens and other systems.

The Kodiaq is just one of the range of Skoda models that have been given the emergency services treatment. The company’s ‘blue light fleet’ includes vehicles for police, fire and rescue, ambulance services, paramedics and armoured duties.

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Skoda can provide the car fully converted and ready to go. Financed vehicles should come with a complete package of breakdown recovery, service, maintenance and repair.

Police are patrolling the M25 in HGV supercabs

HGV supercab police truck

In a bid to reduce accidents, police officers will patrol the M25 motorway using custom-built Mercedes-Benz Actros trucks. The so-called HGV ‘supercabs’, which are funded by Highways England, will be deployed for Operation Orbital.

You can expect to see the supercabs on the M25 between now and Friday 27 March. In a similar operation on the M1, the use of three supercabs helped to cut the number of collisions by a third.

The supercabs are fitted with flashing lights for use in an emergency and have derestricted speed limiters to allow them to travel at higher speeds. The high vantage point allows officers to film evidence of unsafe driving by pulling alongside vehicles. Offending drivers are pulled over by police cars following a short distance behind.

Officers will be checking for mobile phone and seatbelt offences, along with the roadworthiness of vans and lorries, drivers’ hours and insecure loads. In December 2018, there were 400 collisions on the M25, leading to congestion and delays for motorway users.

Operation Orbital involves police forces from Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent, Surrey, Thames Valley and the Metropolitan Police. The officers will also be offering free tyre checks and safety tips to drivers at motorway services.

‘Potentially devastating consequences’

Accident on M25 motorway

Colin Evans, regional road safety officer, for Highways England in the South East, said: “The busiest sections of the M25 are used for nearly 200,000 journeys every day, ranging from commuters getting to work to haulage firms delivering goods along the route or overseas.

“We know that the vast majority of drivers obey the law but a few are risking potentially devastating consequences by driving dangerously.

“Over these two weeks of action, enforcement agencies will be carrying out a coordinated series of checks all around the M25 to help improve safety for everyone.”

The National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for roads policing, chief constable Anthony Bangham, added: “I welcome initiatives to reduce the number of people killed or injured on our roads. We have seen similar successful collaborations between the police and Highways England in the past and I am pleased to see us working together again.

“We want all of those using our roads to do so safely and we will prosecute drivers who put themselves and others at risk by breaking the law.”

Skoda ‘blue light’ emergency vehicle sales up 75% in 2019

Skoda blue light sales success

Your chances of being stopped by a Skoda police car, or helped out by a Skoda ambulance, increased substantially in 2019. 

UK blue-light fleets bought an impressive 75 percent more Skodas in 2019, when viewed against sales figures for 2018.

A grand total of 792 Skoda vehicles went to help serve with the emergency services last year, compared to 454 the year before.

Octavia is the blue-light best-seller

Skoda blue light sales success

Skoda’s biggest seller to UK emergency services during 2019 was the outgoing Octavia Estate. Favoured by the police, ambulance and fire services, some 339 examples of the Octavia found new fleet roles in 2019. 

Against the 110 examples sold in 2018, this represents a considerable increase of some 208% for the practical wagon

The forthcoming fourth-generation Skoda Octavia, including a plug-in hybrid vRS, will be launched later this year in the UK. Skoda expects the new model to remain just as desirable to fleet users, following its launch in May. 

Scala now available to police fleets

Skoda blue light sales success

Another of the new models ready for police usage in 2020 is the Scala hatchback. The compact hatchback is pitched as a contender against patrol car regulars such as the Vauxhall Astra and Peugeot 308.

Skoda is able to sell the Scala fully prepared for police work. LED flashing lights are built into the windscreen, number plate surrounds, grille, and light bar. A three-tone siren is also included, plus all the relevant interior controls. 

During 2020, the Scala will also be joined by a version of the Kodiaq SUV, converted for use by police dog units. 

Distinguished service record

Skoda blue light sales success

Skoda is also keen to celebrate the lengthy association the company has with the emergency services. 

One of the earliest Skoda models, the 1906 Laurin & Klement C1, served as an ambulance. The 1930s and ‘40s saw a greater expansion of ambulance models, with Skoda exporting them across the globe. 

2017 saw the Skoda Yeti become the most-used emergency vehicle in the Czech Republic, with an armoured version of the Superb released the following year.

Kia launches ‘Try Before You Buy’ car rental scheme in Oxford

Kia Stinger car rental

If you fancy living with a Kia Stinger to see what all the fuss is about, or want to discover how a Kia Sportage could cope with family life, the Korean brand’s new car rental scheme is for you.

The ‘Try Before You Buy’ initiative allows you to rent a Kia of your choice from a participating dealer, with prices starting at £15.70 per day. If you decide to buy it, Kia will give you your money back.

Brayleys Oxford is the latest Kia dealer to offer a new car rental service, with cars available for a day, a weekend, a month or even longer. You might need a few days just to escape the Oxford traffic.

The ‘Try Before You Buy’ scheme is a bolt-on available to prospective customers, with cars on offer for up to five days.

You might just fall head over heels in love with a Kia during the rental and you can’t imagine life without a Picanto.

Kia Picanto car rental

It’s another example of the ever-changing car ownership model, which includes car sharing, short term rentals and ‘Netflix-style’ pay-as-you-drive subscription services.

For Brayleys Oxford, it’s a chance to welcome new and existing customers into its showroom, as well as maximising the potential of its car stock.

Car rental ‘couldn’t be simpler’

Kia Sportage car rental

Michelle Prentice, dealer rental programme manager at Kia Motors, said: “We are proud to announce the launch [of] our new car rental location, which I’m confident will be a great addition, not only to Brayleys (Oxford), but to our Kia Rental Network.

“With demand for rental cars in this city being constant and high, we’re confident that our rental operation will be a great success.”

Pawel Kisiel, rental manager at Brayleys Oxford Kia, added: “The new Kia rental process here in Oxford couldn’t be simpler for our customers, as we have made sure our pricing is clear and we have [a] great selection of brand-new Kia cars already in place.”

The ‘Try Before You Buy’ is available on new Kia vehicles only and rates vary across different models. The minimum rental is one day and the maximum is five days, excluding the Stinger, which can only be rented for three days.

The Kia Stinger is also subject to a £1,000 excess and the driver must be aged 25 or over. Still, we’re sure younger drivers would be happy with a Picanto…

Road policing to be reviewed by the Department for Transport

Department for Transport policing review

The Department for Transport has announced plans to review roads policing in line with its Road Safety Action Plan.

The review, the full details of which will be announced on Friday 19 July, will launch later this year. A call for evidence will come in the autumn.

What’s being reviewed, and when will we see the effects?

Department for Transport policing review

The DfT will review how different agencies can share information with the police and vice versa. It wants improvements to be made in areas where current strategies are not so effective, as well as identifying new problems that require changes and advancements in order to effectively combat them.

“We have strong laws in place to ensure people are kept safe on our roads at all times,” said road safety minister Michael Ellis.

“But roads policing is a key deterrent in stopping drivers breaking the law and risking their and other people’s lives.

“This review will not only highlight where police forces are doing good work, it will show what more can be done to improve road safety.”

Heavy traffic on the M25 near Heathrow

The requirements of different types of road network are to be reconsidered as well. How does a rural area differ in terms of how the roads are policed by comparison to urban areas or motorways and A roads?

The DfT will be working in conjunction with the National Police Chiefs’ Council to identify what needs to be done, and funding the project with the help of Highways England.

Pilot programme to launch as early as 2020

Department for Transport policing review

A pilot programme based on the feedback could come as early as next year, with new initiatives aimed at reducing road casualties to be tested.

The RAC has responded positively to the announcement, acknowledging the need to review policing in the face of new motoring challenges.

“We welcome the government’s review into roads policing,” said an RAC spokesperson.

Car insurance premiums

“The RAC’s research suggests that there has been a rise in the number of drivers using handheld mobile phones over the last couple of years, despite higher penalties.

“Our research also shows an increase in the number of drivers that admit to driving while over the legal alcohol limit. Our data indicates that people break the law in these ways because they feel they can get away with it which suggests that fewer roads traffic police officers is contributing to illegal activity at the wheel.”

Skoda Karoq Police

Skoda Karoq joins the emergency services

Skoda Karoq Police

Once upon a time, it was the Land Rover Defender that you’d see hammering around UK roads clad in the colours of our public services. Fire and rescue, the police, the ambulance service – you name it, the Defender was on duty. These days, however, rather less agricultural machines wearing Skoda badges are out on the beat, with the Karoq SUV as the latest addition.

Keen to highlight that service record, the marque notes it has a “heritage of supplying emergency service vehicles that stretches back more than 110 years”. Skoda also points out that, in spite of the Karoq’s unassuming appearance, it’s fully up to the job, with its reliability, luggage space and 4×4 ability making it the ideal machine for public service.

The Karoq’s agreeable dynamics and a strong engine lineup are sure to be of use when weaving through a technical traffic jam slalom, as will its existing array of electronic driver safety and assistance systems.

Skoda Police

“We have worked closely with emergency services teams over the years to ensure that we are providing vehicles that are practical and can be converted to their exact requirements” said Skoda. “These vehicles are in constant use by life-saving teams and an integral requirement of any vehicle is its reliability, which Skoda delivers time and time again. The Karoq fits the bill in every way with outstanding handling, space and practicality.”

It’s not an iconic farm-hack-turned-emergency-hero like the battlefield-ready Defender, but if the service record of its siblings is anything to go by, we’re in no doubt the Karoq is fit for purpose. We happen to think it looks pretty pukka in its service livery, too.

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Exclusive: we drive a Volvo V90 police car

Volvo police carVolvo has form with police cars. Sure, your local bobby probably runs around in an Astra, while an unmarked BMW 5 Series is able to put the frights up any daring company car driver pounding up a motorway at 90mph. But the Swedish car firm has been making police cars since 1929 – and selling them to the British police since the 1960s.

Today, there are around 400 Volvo police cars on UK roads. The vast majority of these are V70 armed response vehicles or traffic cars. But, as the V70 is no longer produced, that could be about to change…

Volvo V90 police carVolvo V90 police car

Yes, say hello to the Volvo V90 police car. Here it is in Swedish livery, being tested on a frozen lake somewhere in the Northern Circle at a top secret military base. We say ‘tested’, that’s actually our man living out a childhood dream of driving a police car. On a frozen lake. Mostly sideways.

What’s the point of that?Volvo V90 police car

It’s not all in the name of fun and frolics. Honestly. Volvo’s test drivers spend at least 500 hours putting the latest police cars through their paces in hot and cold climates. The logic goes that if it can survive being driven hard in temperatures way below zero degrees, a pursuit through Bradford’s housing estates won’t phase it.

What’s under the bonnet?Volvo V90 police car

Under the bonnet of this V90 – and, indeed, all V90 police cars for now – is a standard four-cylinder D5 diesel engine. The twin-turbo unit produces 235hp and, before all the extra weight of the police equipment is added, propels the V90 to 62mph in 6.9 seconds.

What’s different, then?Volvo V90 police car

All Volvo V90 police cars are start off as standard cars, taken from the production line at the same point ordinary models are shipped off to dealers. But, rather than being loaded onto a transporter, police-cars-to-be are taken around the back of Volvo’s factory in Torslanda, near Gothenburg, and modified by the special vehicles division.

And what happens next?Volvo V90 police car

Here, a special team of converters spend around six days turning it into a cop car. A special boot frame is fitted to cope with all the gear carried by traffic officers (and prevent it flying forwards in the case of a rear-end shunt), while brakes are upgraded to help bring the heavyweight V90 to a stop. The suspension also gets upgraded, with a 300mm lift and firmer dampers. The wheels are replaced by XC90 alloys.

Is anything done in the UK?Volvo V90 police car

Once police cars arrive in the UK, they’re sent to one of a small number of specialist converters where the finishing touches are put in place. The correct radio is fitted, for example, while British ‘battenburg’ livery is applied to make it stand out.

Why are they so close to standard?Volvo V90 police car

Police cars are generally bought outright rather than leased, so police forces want to be able to get as much of their investment as possible back when it comes to resale time. As such, once you remove the kit fitted by Volvo’s special vehicles workshop, the V90 looks like pretty much any other model.

It looks rather luxurious insideVolvo V90 police car

Inside, it’s exactly as you’d expect a high-spec V90 to be. Leather seats are fitted (they wear better than cloth and are easy to wipe down), while the standard infotainment system is left in place (the aftermarket computer system that controls the blues and twos, as well as having its own sat-nav feature, is hinged to cover the standard system but can easily be lifted up).

Does it have holes in the roof?Volvo V90 police car

You used to be able to spot an ex-police car by holes in its roof where the lights were fitted. That’s not the case any more… everything is flush mounted, and cabling for the LED roof lights runs through the roof bars. All this helps when the police car has to be sold after retirement.

How long do forces keep police cars?Volvo V90 police car

Traditionally, forces would keep traffic cars for a maximum of three years and 100,000-150,000 miles. Now, budget cuts dictate that forces must keep hold of them for longer – as much as five years and several hundred thousand miles – so they need to be pretty robust.

How often are police cars serviced?Volvo V90 police car

Most police forces have their own workshop for routine servicing, which is carried out regularly, while some even invest in diagnostic equipment to enable more serious work to be carried out. Obviously, under routine police work the cars can be damaged fairly regularly – and for bodywork they’re usually returned to a local Volvo dealer.

What other challenges do forces face?Volvo V90 police car

Over the last eight or so years, all traffic cars have been diesel, with police forces keen to save money on fuel. As diesel becomes a naughty word and police need to be seen to be doing their bit, we could see a shift towards petrol or hybrid police cars. Indeed, with a plug-in hybrid T8 V90 on its way, it’d be fair to assume these might be pressed into police duty.

What about driverless tech?Volvo V90 police car

Volvo is big on autonomous technology, and safety systems such the firm’s City Safety automatic emergency braking could prove to be problematic. If a car will do everything in its power to prevent a collision, how do police carry out tactical stops that involve making contact with other vehicles? Fortunately, for now, the technology can be turned off…

And in the future?Volvo V90 police car

Who knows? Police cars are a tiny part of what Volvo does, so it won’t hold back on developing its driverless features for those rare occasions when traffic officers need to take control. Will we see driverless police cars? “Cars will outskill even police drivers,” Volvo’s special vehicles chief, Ulf Rydne, told us.

Will we see Volvo V90 police cars on UK roads?Volvo V90 police car

There are a few hoops Volvo has to jump through before we’ll see V90 police cars on the roads. It needs to be added to the Home Office framework, which means it’s approved for UK police forces. But as Swedish police have already tested the V90 and given it a 9.2/10 rating – higher than any other car ever – it’s unlikely that it won’t be approved in the UK. We ought to see V90 police cars patrolling our motorways by the end of 2017.

Fake Ferrari factory raided by police

Fake Ferrari factory raided by police

Fake Ferrari factory raided by police

Cops in Spain have raided a sweatshop that churns out bogus Ferraris and Lamborghinis using old Toyota, Ford and Peugeot models.

Police became suspicious after stopping a Toyota MR2 Ferrari lookalike in Benidorm – and traced it back to a factory in the north-eastern region of Catalonia.

When they raided the premises they discovered 14 wannabe supercars in different stages of build, along with 950 marijuana plants and all the accessories needed for a growing them.

Along with the typical MR2-based Ferrari F355 replicas, the production line also featured Ferrari 348, 360 and 430 models – as well as a fake Lamborghini – using Peugeot 406 Coupes and Ford Cougars.

A number of the models were also advertised online, priced at around £35,000.

Despite the supercar looks, all cars featured their original engines ranging from 2.0 to 2.5 litres.

“The investigation began after the intervention in Benidorm of a vehicle that simulated the appearance of a sports car of the Ferrari brand, infringing the industrial property rights of the aforementioned brand,” police said in a statement, which we’ve translated.

“Thanks to the investigation of the agents, it was possible to identify the person who carried out the manufacture of the counterfeit vehicle and its subsequent sale through second-hand sale websites.”

Replica Ferraris increased in popularity in the UK during the 90s – and a number of British firms still offer copycat kits online today.

With Toyota MR2s available for as little as £1,000, the full conversion can be carried out for less than £10,000.

Secondhand examples can be picked up for around £5,000. Just don’t expect anyone to be fooled into thinking you’ve really bought a Ferrari.

Using your phone while driving? Police are out to catch you this week

Using your phone while driving? Police are out to catch you this week

Using your phone while driving? Police are out to catch you this week

Ever tempted to use your phone while driving? You’re no better than a drink-driver – that’s the message being pushed today by the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

The police organisation is launching a week-long crackdown on mobile phone use at the wheel, ahead of heavier penalties being introduced in March.

It comes after more than 10,000 vehicles were stopped as part of a similar campaign in November, which saw 7,800 fixed penalties handed out at the roadside.

Targeted patrols in unmarked vans, high vantage points at the side of roads and even helmet cams are being used to catch distracted motorists.

“This week forces will be working to make driving distracted as socially unacceptable as drink driving through enforcing strong deterrents and powerful messages to make people think twice about their driving habits,” said the council’s lead for roads policing, chief constable Suzette Davenport.

“Encouraging results from last year’s campaign against mobile phone use show how effective new tactics and innovative approaches can be. Officers will continue to use intelligence-led tactics to target police activity and resources and catch repeat offenders.”

Drivers caught using their phone while driving could be hit with an on-the-spot fine of £100 and three penalty points. This is set to double in March.

Road safety charity Brake has welcomed the campaign, adding that more than half of 25-34-year-old drivers admit to reading or sending a text message from behind the wheel within the last year.

The organisation says the reaction times of texting drivers are 35% slower than those paying attention – while they’re also 23 times more likely to crash.

“The law needs to be much tougher with this type of offence, which appears to be growing in numbers,” said Brake’s campaigns director, Gary Rae.

“Younger drivers, especially those aged between 25 and 34, simply aren’t getting the message about the dangers of using a mobile phone while driving. Doing any other complex task while driving hugely increases your chance of crashing. These drivers are putting their own and other people’s lives in grave danger by taking this risk.”

New Vauxhall police car factory

Inside the factory that builds police cars

police_car_production_line_07Vauxhall’s new police car factory in Luton is the largest of its kind in Europe and brings 50 new jobs to the town.

The site will convert 2,500 vehicles per year for police, fire and ambulance duties, having moved from its previous location in Millbrook, Bedfordshire. Vauxhalls being lined up for ‘blues and twos’ duties include the Corsa, Astra, Insignia and Mokka, along with vans such as the Combo, Movano and Vivaro.

Vauxhall claims to be the only carmaker to offer a ‘one-stop shop’ for emergency vehicles, with everything handled at the Luton plant. This includes testing, conversions and even the remarketing of vehicles retired from duty.

Today’s police cars are a far cry from the days of The Bill and Juliet Bravo, with new vehicles equipped to battle modern threats, such as terrorism. Connectivity is key, with some Vauxhall patrol cars featuring 4G wifi and Toughbook tablets.

Dick Ellam, manager of special vehicles, said: “Through our flexible production facility, Vauxhall is able to offer a one-stop shop purchasing experience to UK emergency vehicles.

“We can deliver a wide choice of car and van models, specifically designed and rigorously-tested to meet the stringent demands of our emergency services. We can also supply turn-key vehicle solutions that enable rapid turnaround of replacement vehicles, plus we can now offer a unique in-house de-commissioning and re-marketing service.”

Last year, Vauxhall signed a deal to provide 2,000 police vehicles to 28 UK forces, including the supply of 1,200 new Astras. The company claims to enjoy a 70% market share in the UK.

In pictures: the Vauxhall police car factory

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