What does the colour of UK police cars signify?
May 10, 2006 4:46 AM   Subscribe

What does the colour of UK police cars signify?

The majority of UK police cars are white with high visibility markings. However some are red and some are silver. Is there a system behind this?

I have been told that red police cars are armed response units. Are armed police differentiated in some way? For example, armed motorcycle cops never seem to wear high visibility jackets like their regular patrol colleagues but rather head to toe black.
posted by ninebelow to Law & Government (8 answers total)
Are you sure they're cops? I've never seen a red police car, but I have seen red cars with markings and lights -- fire brigade vehicles. Never seen marked-up silver cars either, unless they're traffic cops, which are designed to blend in until they turn on the lights and nick you good.
posted by bonaldi at 4:58 AM on May 10, 2006

I've wondered the exact same thing. In Nottingham, all the cop cars are white with reflective markings, even the armed response ones.

When i lived in London for a couple of years I noticed that there were some just like Nottingham's and some plain red with only a few markings. I thought maybe the red ones were armed response as well.

To confuse things even more, the cops are starting to use silver cars, to increase resale value when they're sold!
posted by derbs at 4:59 AM on May 10, 2006

ah i think i've got it, wikipedia says the red cars are the diplomatic protection service cars, probably why there were so many around Kensington

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metropolitan_Police (about half way down)
posted by derbs at 5:03 AM on May 10, 2006

bonaldi: I work in central London so my experience of the police is probably fairly atypical. Red and silver are pretty common along with standard pandas.

Thanks derbs. For silver cars I wouldn't have guessed it would be something so prosaic and for red cars I can't believe the DPG is that big. Maybe all the SOs use red cars?
posted by ninebelow at 5:45 AM on May 10, 2006

I *think* that in London, armed response vehicles are marked with a yellow dot about 10 inches across on the roof struts. Can anyone verify this?
posted by Jofus at 9:15 AM on May 10, 2006

Can't verify it, ... but I can verify that British police are starting to have to conform to EU standards for police cars, which includes that horrid retroreflective neon yellow checkerboard down the side.
posted by SpecialK at 10:59 AM on May 10, 2006

Red police cars in London belong to the City of London police, distinct to the Metropolitan Police who deal with the rest of London
posted by MrC at 12:34 AM on May 11, 2006

Red police cars in London belong to the City of London police,

No, if you go to a City of London station like Liverpool Street you will see plenty of white cars whilst you will see red cars outside a Met station like The Strand. You are far more likely to see red cars in Westminister (covered by the Met) than the City.
posted by ninebelow at 1:38 AM on May 11, 2006

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