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Police are told to stop hiding blue lights with nylon tights on unmarked cars

Police who crashed into M&S lorry because they had covered blue lights with nylon tights to keep unmarked car undercover are banned from the practice

  • Undercover officers in unmarked cars were covering lights with nylon tights
  • But a policeman was seriously injured in a crash while his lights were covered
  • The previously  practice has now been banned on safety grounds 

Undercover police have been banned from using nylon tights to cover up emergency lights on unmarked cars after a crash left a policeman seriously injured.

Officers around the country have been using nylon tights on the front grilles of their unmarked cars to stop criminals identifying them by seeing the half-hidden lights.

But the so-called ‘tights on lights’ ruse has been banned after a crash between an unmarked police car and a lorry in Llanfairfechan, north Wales.

This accident between an unmarked police car and a M&S lorry has led to officers being banned from using tights to cover up blue lights in the grilles of undercover cars

A collision investigator recorded that the nylon covers could not be ruled out as a contributory factor to the collision as they made it extremely difficult for the driver of the light goods vehicle to identify the vehicle behind them as a police car responding to an incident.

The police driver was approaching a vehicle on the dual carriageway rapidly from behind. However, the driver of the light goods vehicle was unable to clearly identify it as a police car. 

The police driver swerved into a layby and collided with a Heavy Goods Vehicle.  

North Wales Police’s professional standards department became aware of the issue in February 2017, a year after the incident. They made a voluntary referral to the IOPC that month.

The IOPC investigation found that there was no national standard policy over covering lights and as a result, they found a number of forces had been using various measures including using tights to cover lights.

Catrin Evans, of the IOPC, said: ‘When police forces attempt to make unmarked police cars less visible, they need to adopt a standardised approach.’

An officer was seriously injured when the lorry moved into his lane in north Wales

An officer was seriously injured when the lorry moved into his lane in north Wales

Ms Evans added: ‘Any modifications made ought to be tested and approved by experts rather than using ad hoc solutions that may not be the safest method.

‘For the safety of police drivers and the public alike, testing would also help make sure that any coverings do not significantly limit the visibility of the emergency blue lights when turned on.

‘I’m pleased to see the NPCC has recognised the need to develop this national guidance and has commissioned a working group to produce the new policy.’

The IOPC found no case to answer for the officers involved in covering the grille lights with nylon tights due to the lack of any national policy or guidance.



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