Believe it or not, I endured some seriously hard training in my recruit indoctrination into the Metropolitan Police Force, albeit they didn't give me a gun for at least 2 years. The idea was that you ought to know how it felt when you came up against violence. Not all recruits had the benefit of experiencing playground fights as kids or played rugby. In the Met Cadets we boxed, wrestled and judo'd. Those joining directly from `civvy` life may have had similar experiences, but a lot hadn't and so the training process saw to it that by the time you hit the streets of London you knew what it felt like to have had the crap knocked out of you in an allegedly controlled environment. That way, the first smack on the jaw you took, wouldn't make you jibber and weep (providing it didn't lay you out).
For cadets, “Milling” was compulsory as a warm up to self defence training. Oversized boxing gloves, step into the ring and, on the whistle, you had 45 seconds to flatten your oppo or defend yourself; ideally, you'd do both. Anyone seen pulling his punches would do a round with the instructor (ex Royal Marine boxing champion and killer of bulls with bare hands). Not so in todays more academically oriented `service`, as, presumably, we mustn’t make anyone cry - until they get into the Public Order Units that is, but I believe they have Red Men these days. However, it probably made men out of us (and some of our wives too). It is a well known fact that for training to be effective it must be realistic and to generate realism takes a lot of care and attention to avoid an excess of pain.
Maybe I was lucky, but I never sustained anything more serious than a bloody nose or bruised ribs during my time as an average boxer in the cadets. If I had done so, would my employers have been liable? After all, I was participating in a sport which I had volunteered for. Had I been seriously hurt during the above mentioned `Milling` which wasn't optional, but where the gloves were oversize and therefore not as effective as those used in competion in the ring, what would have been different? I doubt if this type of training is even talked about now, let alone practised, especially as I was mildly chastised by a sergeant for doing press-ups alongside a 25 yr old recruit to try and encourage him to dig a little deeper. Apparantly, my telling him I was 41 was humiliating him although I knew him outside the gym and he felt the whole thing ridiculous. The firearms training my guys and gals went through was equally realistic. We used a clinical psychologist to help us get the trainees into a high state of `tension arousal` before we started the exercises, to ensure they could experience working under stress. Its a tough call and great care is needed, but I would argue that if it wasn't done and an officer suffered in a real situation for lack of preparation then the employer would be very much at fault.
I feel terrible for the poor family of this trainee. He was a former soldier so no doubt had combat training experience and as likely as not some real action under his belt.I recently had the shocking experience of studying my own medical history and I was shocked at how much violence I had been subjected to over my 30 year police career, much of it I'd forgotten, and this was just the stuff that I sought medical assistance for. A lot of the knocks are just accepted as par for the course, but I was very grateful for the training I'd been given..
Ok, thats it from me for a wee while. We're trying to go to Spain again, this time virus free (when we last checked). If you're on the Costa del Sol and see a bloke in a Red Man suit sipping a vino tinto, leave him alone. TTFN