Career as a Police traffic officer

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Andrew Tate is a road policing officer or traffic officer.

What is your current role?

My main role is helping to reduce deaths, injuries and collisions on the roads I patrol. I do this by trying to influence driver behaviour for the better. For instance, a police presence helps to reassure the public to drive correctly and considerately. We do this by carrying out high visibility patrols. I also deal with road traffic collisions – organising the traffic and other services needed.

How did you learn your job?

I was a police constable for five years before joining the traffic department, so I had already done my basic training and had plenty of general policing experience. I have had specialist training in several areas of road policing work, ranging from law to advanced and pursuit driving as well as operating speed detection devices.

Do you have a typical day?

While I mainly deal with traffic related incidents, I am also involved in work connected with established offenders, including burglars, shoplifters, drug dependents and those involved in car theft. I receive intelligence about these on a daily basis and this keeps me up to date with local crime trend patterns and active offenders in my area.

What do you drive?

I usually drive a high performance marked police car – often known as battenburgs because they are painted in blue and yellow checks and look a bit like the cakes!

All our cars are fitted with on-board computers, cameras and videos. We also have two-way radios so that we can communicate with each other and the control room, as well as tracker equipment to locate stolen vehicles.

Sometimes, I drive an unmarked police car, which is a high performance vehicle fitted with cameras, siren and blue flashing lights in the front grille. On the road it looks like any other car.

Do you work alone?

That depends on what type of incident I am sent to. Some incidents require a double crewed response. I often work alone but it's just as important to team up with other traffic officers. Policing of any sort is about team work so I spend a lot of time liaising with colleagues, either on jobs or in the station where they might seek my specialist advice.

How do you cope with serious accidents?

Dealing with the aftermath of a serious or fatal collision is never pleasant, but it makes me even more determine to prevent as many injuries and deaths on the roads as I can. To help me deal with this, I trained as a family liaison officer. This means that if someone dies or has a life changing serious injury as a result of a collision I am there to break the news to the family and help them through the difficult period ahead. I do receive counselling to help me cope with the incidents I deal with.

What do you like best about your job?

Although my role can be both mentally and physically demanding at times, it can also be very rewarding.

Andrew's route to his career as a Police traffic officer

  • Experience in Special Constabulary.
  • Police driver training.
  • Specialist traffic courses.

Andrew's tips

  • An interest in all types of motor vehicles (that includes lorries, not just cars and motorcycles!) is an advantage.
  • You need a lot of patience as we don't spend all the time in high speed pursuits. A lot of the work is mundane and sometimes you have to sit around in your vehicle for hours.
  • One of the most important skills you will need is to be a good communicator and to be able to take responsibility under extreme pressure.

Traffic officer related jobs

  • Driving examiner
  • Road safety officer
  • Traffic warden

Salary of a Police traffic officer

  • Salary scales are in line with police national pay scales and are linked to an officer's rank and time served.
  • New recruits are paid £19,227, rising to over £22,000 once the two-year probationary period has been completed.
  • After five years a constable would be earning £24,852. After 10 years, £28,914.
  • A sergeant earns £30,186 on appointment.

Getting in

  • Potential traffic officers have to complete basic police training and pass their probationary period before they can start applying for specialist departments.
  • Traffic departments will expect applicants to demonstrate genuine enthusiasm for the job, a good knowledge of traffic law and to pass a high-speed driving course.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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