Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Enterprise Awards 2012

Social and Cultural Impact

Police car

UK’s first national police livery goes global

Home Office – Centre for Applied Science and Technology
Academic leaders
Sharon Cook

Prior to 1998, there was no national police car livery thus when travelling through the UK on the motorway network there was no standardised vehicle markings to denote a police vehicle.

The National Motorway Policing sub-committee within the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) requested that the Home Office “…determine for police traffic patrol vehicles operating in a motorway environment a suitable common standard of markings which enhances, at a distance, conspicuity and recognition as a police vehicle.”

Conspicuity was a critical factor in the livery design since, given the nature of the officers’ duties and the high speed environment in which they operate, quick detection of the police vehicle is essential.

An ergonomics approach identified key properties which the livery should have if it was to be attention-getting to other road users and these aspects were then designed into the livery. Due to the alternating yellow and blue blocks of colour to the sides of the vehicles, the livery became known as ‘Battenburg’.

The livery was scientifically assessed first through laboratory trials and then through six-month road trials with police forces. The requirements were then written into a Home Office guidance document for national implementation.

View police vehicle in action.


  • Further police liveries

    Following the successful development and implementation the high conspicuity livery for police motorway vehicles, the following additional police vehicle liveries were developed:

    • Development of the urban/sub-urban police patrol vehicles half-Battenburg livery
    • Development of high conspicuity livery for police motorcycles
  • National guidance document
  • Other emergency service liveries – UK

    The ‘Battenburg’ markings were then adopted beyond the police service by other UK emergency service organisations:

    • Ambulance livery
    • Fire and Rescue appliance livery
    • National blood service livery
    • Mountain rescue livery
    • HM Coastguard livery
  • Non-emergency service liveries

    Conspicuous liveries were also developed for the Highways Agency to support their work with the police in reducing congestion caused by road incidents which has been estimated to cost the UK economy £3 billion a year with the closure of one lane estimated at up to £400,000 an hour. Two liveries were developed:

    • Traffic Officer whose aim is to patrol the motorway network and support the police in incident management.
    • Incident Support whose aim is to clear the road scene following incidents.
  • Emergency service liveries – World wide

    The influence of the Battenburg livery appears to have extended beyond the UK to other countries worldwide including:

    • United States of America – Battenburg livery cited as the only example of International Best Practice by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, US Department of Homeland Security
    • Sweden – There is reference to a publication entitled ‘Improved visibility of road maintenance vehicles using Battenburg markings’.
    • Switzerland
    • New Zealand
    • Barbados
    • Hong Kong
    • Republic of Ireland
    • Czech republic

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