Yvonne McGregor proudly presents YPOS 2019

10 Sep 2019

Several years ago, Section UK volunteered to host the Young Police Officers’ Seminar (YPOS) in 2019, and as Scotland was chosen as the location, I was tasked with organising this prestigious IPA event.

After the original arrangements to host the event at the Scottish Police College, Tulliallan, unfortunately fell through, I managed to secure Stirling University as a suitable location. As it was quite a bit more expensive than the Police College, it was decided to see if we could secure some sponsorship or funding, and we were delighted with the contributions made by the Criminology Department of Leicester University, Digital Barriers and IPA No 1 (Scotland) Region, as well as from Mackie’s Crisps and Tunnocks Biscuits, who donated some of their produce for the participants to enjoy. We were also greatly assisted by IPA Member Graeme Young who secured discounts at Edinburgh Castle, free parking for minibuses and cars at Edinburgh airport, and changing facilities prior to our Gala Dinner.

The theme for YPOS 2019 was ‘Policing Change’, which gave me a vast array of topics to select from. I had the support from Police Scotland to utilise their staff to assist with the seminar. Serving and retired officers were also utilised from various parts of the UK. Several were IPA Members. 

45 participants from 25 countries attended the seminar, which was opened on 23 June 2019 by May-Britt Ronnebro, Chairperson of the Professional Commission.

Monday saw the seminar begin with a talk on the Art of Communication, delivered by Cathy MacDonald, a retired Police Scotland Inspector, who was involved in some high profile negotiation incidents. This lecture provided many learning points for the group that could be utilised throughout the seminar and back at their place of work.  IPA Member and former police officer, Mark Bullen, who now resides in Russia, gave a fascinating presentation of Russian prisoner tattoos, which opened discussions by some participants’ of their involvement and experiences in dealing with people who had some of the tattoos. Damian Allain, retired Superintendent from the Met, presented on gangs, in particular Operation Trident, and May-Britt Ronnebro spoke about the IPA and what it has to offer members.

Monday evening saw our building flooded due to a torrential downpour, and we had to evacuate. I am glad to say that we were able to accommodate those affected in alternative accommodation with the contingency plans in place and the assistance of the Police College at Tulliallan.

On Tuesday, Martyn Linton, a Detective Sergeant with Sussex Police, gave a presentation on gangs, explaining county lines and gang cultures. This was followed by a presentation on virtual Police training by Kyle Hardcastle, a serving Detective Sergeant with the Met, where several officers were able to try out the different training scenarios wearing the goggles. Kyle then followed this with a talk on terrorism within the UK. Ken Pennington, former PSNI Superintendent, continued with the terrorism theme, but this time in Northern Ireland.  The day concluded with Sergeant Laura Gibson’s presentation on the ‘Wellbeing’ programme within Police Scotland. There was a lot of interest in this subject and several attendees intend to progress this in their own areas.

Wednesday morning was a chance for the group to be active. Rob Stenhouse did a session on ESDS – Explosive Self Defence System, which is basically ‘slapping’. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed this, although some were a little overzealous, and over the course of the day many bruises began to appear. Fortunately, no one was badly injured.

No visit to Scotland would be complete without a visit to a Whisky distillery. After their exertion in the morning, we gave all participants some social and cultural time at Tullibardine Distillery. Visiting a distillery was a first for most of the group. They received a guided tour of the premises and a full explanation of the whisky making process, ending up in the tasting room where they received 3 samples of different whiskies. 

As the weather was so good, we took a detour on the way back to the famous Kelpies at the Forth and Clyde Canal. Two 30-metre high horses heads, which are mythological beasts possessing the strength of 10 horses. A great location for a photograph and an ice cream.

Thursday was spent in Edinburgh, and thankfully the sun was shining. Our accredited tour guide, retired Superintendent Jim Leslie, gave us a history lesson on our way to the capital. Our first photo stop was at the Bridges Viewpoint where you can see all 3 Bridges crossing the Forth. The iconic Forth Rail Bridge, Road Bridge and the new Queensferry Crossing, opened in 2017. 

Our first visit was to the castle, a historic fortress on the Castle Rock which dominates the Edinburgh skyline. Jim gave us a brief history about the castle and suggested things of particular interest, namely the Stone of Destiny, used for all inaugurations of Scottish Kings, the Crown Jewels, and Mons Meg, a six tonne siege gun, amongst other things.

The highlight for everyone was the One o’clock Gun. Every day of the year, an artillery gun is fired at 1 o’clock. It dates back to 1861, when ships on the Forth set their maritime clocks to the sounding of the gun. Although you know what is going to happen and when, there were still loud screams when the gun was fired!

The next stop was Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano that gave us panoramic views over Edinburgh.  We then returned to the city centre, where everyone enjoyed some free time.  Many souvenirs were purchased and some local hostelries visited.

Our Gala Dinner was at the Royal Scots Club in Edinburgh, which is a private Georgian terrace hotel in the centre of the city. The vast majority of the YPOS participants wore their police uniforms, with various colours and styles on display.  This was the first opportunity they had to wear their uniforms; they were all very smart and many photos were taken.YPOS Our group photo at Edinburgh Castle

After a pre-dinner drink we were piped into the beautiful dining room by Sandro Winter, one of the officers from Switzerland. He did a fantastic job and received a huge round of applause.  We were joined by some of our sponsors and other invited guests. After an excellent dinner, there was the statutory group photograph, in their uniforms, and all participants then received their YPOS Attendance Certificates and an ACME Police Whistle, engraved with the IPA logo.  A great time was had by all, and the festivities continued at the university into the wee small hours of the morning. 

On the final day of the YPOS, the presentations continued with Immigration and Human Trafficking by Jack Linton from the Home Office and Detective Sergeant Peter Lennon from Police Scotland. Once again, they sparked conversations and discussions, as the majority of countries represented have issues with these topics. Our final presentation was from Superintendent Jim Wyllie, the officer in charge of the International Development Unit at Police Scotland, who gave an insight into the countries they work in and with, and also the process for foreign officers wishing to work with Police Scotland. 

The closing ceremony, which included an exchange of official gifts, was conducted by May-Britt Ronnebro and IPA UK President Clive Wood.

Throughout the week, everyone received a YPOS challenge coin. Many participants swapped patches, badges, coins, and some police clothing was also gifted.  The group bonded well, and many lasting friendships have been made. As Saturday was the main departure day for the participants, we visited a local bar for a few drinks to relax and unwind on Friday evening. An excellent way to finish the week and cement friendships.

I would like to personally thank all the presenters and also Steve Bretherton, who assisted me during the week.  Aidan Goundry and Jordan Blyth who did the meeting and greeting at Edinburgh Airport, Andrew Wright and Bill Petherick from No 1 Region, who assisted with airport transfers. Without your help and support, the seminar would not have been the success it was.

Servo per Amikeco

Yvonne McGregor, Organiser of YPOS 2019, IPA UK