Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

The van in the square


It’s hard to describe how bright the lights around this van parked in George Square were.

It’s not the first van I’ve spotted with bright LEDs tacked on, there was another nearby, but it had a reason, being a lorry-sized recovery vehicle (and at work, trying to get a dead bus off the road).

Van Lit Front

Van Lit Front

In the US, this would have ‘FREE CANDY’ or painted on the side, and be parked in a dark corner. (Kidding!)

Free Candy

Free Candy


Van Lit Rear

Van Lit Rear

In ‘my day’ it didn’t take much by way of alteration to find the police paying attention, yet there seem to be quite a few highly visible vehicles pootling around Glasgow, with lighting which clearly does not comply with any vehicle or mounting regulations, will not carry any conformity marking, and are dazzling. (I’m not making that complaint about this one, just noting it).

There was a time when daring to have any blue lights on your car would earn you a ‘pull’ and maybe even court, accused of attempting to impersonate a police vehicle. I recall an early case where one lad ended up with this problem merely for having illuminated washer jets on his bonnet, since they lit up blue.

Now it seems this is ignored, which seems a bit odd, given that a look at the news from the past year will show that there are now actual cases where criminals have fitted blue lights with the intent of impersonating police to force drivers to stop, on quiet roads, where they are then assaulted and robbed.

Again, be clear this is NOT directed at this bit of car (or van) spotting, which just reminded of some other things.

I think it’s shame we’ve ‘advanced’ to the stage where customising is now largely sneered on in this country.


December 27, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Drone rules and regs set to be ramped up with apparently more police powers

There’s a sad irony (for me at least) as I watch the development of drones (and arguing about the meaning of that word makes no difference, language changes to meet the needs of the day, get over it), having been a radio-control modeller in the past.

For pure fun, I jumped in with both feet almost the first day serious electric buggies arrived, starting with completely sealed waterproof ‘go anywhere’ chassis (which was soon stripped down to almost nothing as I didn’t go anywhere wet), that I probably doubled the intended speed of, and advanced to a 4-wheel drive beast with differentials, and souped-up with high power motor, extra cells to increase the drive voltage, and electronic speed control to dump the mechanical thing that came in the box. Sadly for the maker’s good efforts, I made it 2-wheel drive, as drifting it was a LOT more fun.

Then I got hooked on the start of decent radio-control helicopters, but that never went really well, as I was forever suffering technical issues that meant more time on the ground than in the air, but I did learn the basics, and never crashed.

The irony is that in those days, RC helis cost way more than drones, and did not fly themselves in any way. We were lucky to have one gyro, compared to the multiples fitted to drones.

Cost and ability kept the sky clear in those days.

Today, drones are relatively cheap (a fraction of the original RC helis) and need no skill to fly.

But they do need common-sense – and sadly, that’s a rare commodity.

Look no further than the issues around increasingly powerful laser pointers.

Is the instance of morons who think it is a ‘Good idea’ to park themselves near an airport rare to nil?

Sadly, looking at the news and incident reports, anything but!

The same people can go out and buy any drone they like, and fly it where they like.

I could waffle on about ‘Why we can’t have nice things”.

I could list many items I am not allowed to buy, or even OWN for that matter, having been restricted by legislation in recent years.

I could probably even point out that relatively responsible (such as me) are restricted by the law, while criminals care not one jot about the law, and carry on unaffected, fairly safe in the knowledge that they will not be caught.

That’s not my imagination or an unjustified claim. Look at gun crime for example, or even vehicle excise duty evasion, now growing even though it should be easier to catch offenders by number plate recognition, as opposed to eyeballing ‘tax discs’.

I can’t afford a decent drone, so this has no impact on me now.

But it’s just such a shame that what should be both a fun recreational item AND a superb tool for serious users, has become demonised and targeted by legislation that is really more ‘knee-jerk’ (to keep uneducated members of the public appeased) than effective regulation.

See details here: Police to be given powers to ground drones in UK crackdown

There’s also a clear media trend – maybe intentional, maybe not – to ‘talk up’ stories about civil incidents involving passenger aircraft.

This usually comprises a story about a ‘ near miss’ involving a drone a few feet from the aircraft, and reports of drones being spotted by aircrew, often at extreme distance, and so far (despite the number of claims/reports) no actual collisions, or even video to support the stories.

There’s been more evidence of UFOs near aircraft than drones.

That’s not to be misrepresented as my wanting to see such an event, but evidence and fact would be better.

As it is, these sighting have about as much credibility as UFO sightings, which aircrew generally stopped reporting once their bosses began to drop their names off the promotion ladder.

Reading the media, one could be forgiven for thinking that a drone sighting involved something more like…

Predator And Hellfire

Predator And Hellfire

Than this…



I’m just having a bit of a waffle, since I’ve largely avoided throwing anything into this particular pie.

But most of the so-called ‘power’ are largely contained in existing CAA rules, and sadly, from comments that can be found in other forums, those currently ignoring those are unlikely to change their habits, especially as they can disappear long before any police with ‘powers’ can arrive.

Fly safe if you’re lucky enough to get a serious drone for Christmas.

November 28, 2017 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow police memorial in the Trongate

I’m never particularly happy to quote or refer to other people’s claims if I haven’t double checked them, so I wasn’t completely comfortable with some of the lists I referred to a few weeks ago, but then again, I wasn’t making the claim that they were accurate, just having a bit of fun.

One was a list of Scottish inventions, with one entry noting that Glasgow invented the police, and was the home of the first police to be created by an Act.

Seems I had a pic on file that confirmed this, and the Glasgow Police Act of 1800.

Find it in the Trongate, near the Tron Steeple and the Tron Theatre.



September 29, 2017 Posted by | photography | , | Leave a comment

Curiosity is going to get me one day

Or maybe not – I like a low profile.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t suffer from as much curiosity as anyone else, and I often wonder just why some stops are made on the road.

On the other hand, many apparently random stops are based on other information, and these days with almost (but not quite) live info on VED, insurance, and MOTs being available in-car (not forgetting ANPR watching for dodgy registrations as well as the MKI eyeballs), it’s a brave or foolish driver who knowingly ventures out if not relatively squeaky clean.

So far, I’ve not seen anyone take off and try to do a runner when the ‘blues and two’ fire up.

And I’ll include myself in that, after being shocked to find myself being ‘fitted up’ for a fictitious driving offence within sight of my own front door as I returned home one evening.

Thinking an ambulance wanted to pass on our fairly narrow road I just slotted into the first available space between parked cars, only to be surprised when it pulled in behind me. I hadn’t even thought of a big white BMW police cruiser, and couldn’t see it anyway, until the blinding main beams were turned off. We see quite a few ambulances and fire engines, using our road as a feed between two main roads at each end.

As it was, I ended up being questioned about some fantasy manoeuvre I had supposedly carried out at the little roundabout on our road (seriously, I had no idea what this little kid with a big BMW was on about – I was just ambling towards my house, 150 metres from the roundabout, and he was accusing me of virtually going around a tiny roundabout virtually on two wheels).

During this sham, he noticed a laptop on the passenger seat and started asking about it.

Odd thing… when I told him it was linked to GPS (this was before SatNav!) and was recording my ground track, speed, and direction every second, his story/allegation suddenly evaporated – changing to “Don’t do that again!”

Instead, he decided he had witnessed events which gave him grounds to breathalyse me.

Needless to say, THAT came up with a big fat ZERO!

Today, I’d grab the video and the camera – but I was so shaken at the thought that bar having GPS toys onboard (I was using it all the time back then) and not being a drinker of any sort, I’d been selected as the target for a couple of young cops, and they could have done it too.

Their word against mine. If I went to court and challenged them – who’s the Sheriff going to believe?

I didn’t even have the presence of mind to take their registration number, let alone their shoulder numbers.

They certainly appeared genuine – but I’ve never seen such a car/team camped out in my road, before… or since.

So, I wonder, chance happening that night, or – Bogus police officers jailed for pulling over drivers

Curiosity Police Stop

Curiosity Police Stop

June 29, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

An illegal getting pulled? Surely not?

I didn’t notice it in this random pic I collected one day, but it looks as if I might be proved wrong (on one occasion at least) and our Scottish Police DO pay attention and give illegal registration plates a pull (just not perhaps as enthusiastically as their cousins down south, as seen on Police Interceptors etc) – assuming this driver was not doing something else.

Since this was just a ‘snap’ it missed the full registration number, so all we know is that it was ‘4 NNX’ – but illegally spaced to read ‘ 4NN X#.

Naughty naughty Ann.

Cough up and buy a legit personalised registration like the rest of us – and don’t cheat by buying a cheap one and fiddling with it like that (and making life harder for us).

Police BMW Stop - Illegal Plate

Police BMW Stop – Illegal Plate

June 7, 2017 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

LED lighting makes services vehicle identification more difficult

In what might be referred as ‘the good old days’ (and by that I mean only a few years ago), it was fairly easy to identify which of the services a vehicle belonged to simply by looking at the colour of the beacons attached to it. Police, fire, and ambulances generally had blue lights; doctors had green, the police seemed to get alternating red at some point. There could also be yellow, on working vehicles that could be a hazard, such as slow-moving refuse lorries, tow-trucks, and various road maintenance vehicles.

While many still sport the common incandescent light fittings, with coloured lenses which convert the white light from the conventional bulb behind, newer fitting are manufactured using LEDs, which do no usually have tinted lenses or covers.

Unlike the white light produced by a filament bulb, which requires a coloured lens, filter, or coating to produce the desired output colour, the light from an LED is created within the device, so no filter is needed, and the devices generally come with clear lenses, which maximises their output. (For the pedantic, I’m calling white a colour, although it is made up of many, and also not going to refer to the various light conversions that take place within the structure of various visible light LEDs.)

The end result is that it’s no longer easy to tell what service an unmarked vehicle belongs to just by looking at the auxiliary lights. All you see when they are not energised is a clear fitting, and the colour only becomes apparent when they are activated.

Case in point was the Audi I tripped over recently. Roof mounted light bar, but… transparent housing.

I couldn’t see any markings or other equipment(eg radio) fitted to it, or lying on the seats, nor anything screwed to the bodywork. There were no cameras mounted anywhere, nor a second rear-view mirror.

The same anonymity was true of the driver, inside the adjacent ‘greasy spoon’ and collecting a large bag of goodies to help him survive the rest of the day. Dressed in black, he did have any kit, or badges apparent.

There were no lights in the rear window (not even pop-up types), but I spotted a dash-mounted temporary unit, probably blue/red, and a look at the front suggests a small pair of non-Audi ‘white’ squares in the lower grille, which I suspect are LEDs.

Black Audi LEDs

Black Audi with LEDs

FYI – Unmarked police cars around here look more like this when at work:

Unmarked Police


January 25, 2014 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Quiet Clutha

It’s been a week since events saw a total of nine fatalities and more than thirty injured result from the crash of a helicopter on the roof of a Glasgow pub – the dead included all three on board the helicopter.

While there has been praise for those involved, it’s sad to note that one individual has been fined for comments made online after the event (and others may be pending), and one media commentator apologised after making a joke which referred to the crash.

The end of the week also saw a visit to the site by Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay,  who also went on to meet some of the survivors nearby.

I didn’t know about this visit until later that day, as I had decided to take a trip in to see the site for myself. While I’ve not been there for a while, the area used be one I visited frequently. As an aside, ever since the advent of practical radio-controlled model helicopters (I don’t mean the toys we’ve seen arrive in past few years, or quadrotor drones), I’ve never lost interest in them, as the models follow the full-size so closely in design and operation.

The area was notably quiet, almost silent, which was eerie, since it usually very busy with traffic and people hurrying about their business. Temporarily, all streets are cordoned off to traffic, and few people were walking along them, although only the street running past the Clutha was closed to pedestrians.

I collected a few pics to mark the event, but in reality, with the police cordon around the Clutha, and the fact that this was an event that took place on a roof, there wasn’t really that much for someone without access to see. The only notable feature was a temporary structure place over the hole in the roof.

Clutha crash site

Clutha crash site

Notably, the area that had once been the car park for the RNVR Carrick had been set aside for those who wished to leave a floral tribute.

Clutha tributes

Clutha tributes

December 6, 2013 Posted by | Aviation, Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quiet sky

It’s been a little odd for past couple of days/night, as the sky over the east end of Glasgow has become rather quiet and empty.

Today, Sunday, the full effects of the past day’s events are coming to light as the victims are named:

Glasgow helicopter crash: Victims named

You’ll find much more coverage online, as this became a major incident, with prime coverage around the world. I actually first learned of it while watching Russia Today, when it flashed up on the screen shortly after the event, and this morning, the story was injected in a stream of ‘Old Time Radio’ which I often listen to online, and that’s not even current content, being radio plays from as far back as the 1920s.

The site of this incident is a place I have stood at on many occasions, but never at that time of night.

Just as I started writing, I heard the sound of a helicopter approaching, and went for a look. Not one I recall seeing before, it appeared to be completely white, but moving away meant its details could not be seen. However, its passing and served to highlight the absence of the police helicopter.

It’s often only when something you have become used to disappears that you tend to notice it, and the sight and sound of the police helicopter was pretty much constant over the east end. I was used to it, sometimes quite close, but never close enough for a good pic. It was always moving away by the time I collected a suitable camera and lens.

At night, my wanderings to the shops also meant seeing its lights in the air, as the round trip means a walk of up 2 hours, during which it was often a regular sight.

Seen a few weeks ago, passing over the east end:

Police Helicopter Glasgow

Police Helicopter G-SPAO Glasgow

December 1, 2013 Posted by | Aviation, Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Baillieston Police Station – A Shut and Open Case

I have to pass the police station in Baillieston every time I go to the shops, and that can be a daily occurrence some weeks, so it came as a bit of surprise when I looked over as I passed the other day… all the windows were shuttered, and the signs were covered too, or removed.

I’d always being going to make a light-hearted fun post about the signs, ever since they appeared a few years ago, and were either the result of a publicity agency being gifted too much money to produce something nice – or someone in the office had bought a copy of Photoshop, and needed to produce something to show how clever they were. The signs were worded in that sugary and cosy language intended to make the reader feel comfortable with the subject, and probably employed a small army of psychologists to make sure nothing that could have alarmed the reader was said.

Then I thought I’d better not actually make that post, lest my light-hearted take on the signs be misinterpreted, or even misused – and now they’re gone. Oh well.

So, back to the old police station in Main Street:

Baillieston police main st

There’s a low building at the back of the Main Street building, around the corner in South Scott Street, which I have since learned was a recreation area and hall, with a snooker table, indoor bowls and table tennis. The hall was also used for social events, popular with the local community (see comment below). I never paid much attention to it, and think it lay unused, and already gained a broken window:

Baillieston police training Sth Scott St

(When I passed a couple of weeks later, all the upper storey windows of the main building were shuttered, as were the windows on the lesser building to the rear).

When I first saw the shutters, I thought the station had been closed as a result of the new 101 phone hotline service which has just been introduced in Scotland:

A new national phone line for non-emergency calls to the police has gone live.

The 101 number aims to take the strain off the 999 service by giving people an alternative way to report non-urgent crimes, pass on information or get advice.

Calls to 101 will cost 15p from both landlines and mobile phones, with an automatic system detecting the caller’s location before connecting them to their nearest available police station.

Via Police launch non-emergency 101 phone line to ease 999 strain | Scotland | News | STV

But a little bell was ringing somewhere, and was telling me this was not so.

In fact, after I thought a bit harder, I remembered that there had been announcement back in 2011, to the effect that the Main Street police station would close because the old building was going to be too expensive to upgrade. Instead, the service would ultimately relocate to the premises formerly occupied by Baillieston’s Social Works Department, in nearby Buchanan Street.

Back then, the move was costed at around £150,000 to bring the building up to standard and install the required technology, and was due for completion in 2013 – looks like they got that right.

The new facility actually exceeds the space required by the police, and will be shared with other services as part of a ‘community hub’ serving the Baillieston area.

Lacking any of the character of the original, the new facility isn’t particularly noticeable – but then again, it’s really just an old Social Works office:

Baillieston police Buchanan St

Even closer in, it’s still not easy to spot. Almost lost behind the bus stop, jumbo wheelie-bin, and (oops… illegally) parked car(s) in the bus bay. I must have walked past it many time in recent weeks, and never noticed it. And it will be even better hidden when the bare trees grow some leaves when it gets warmer:

Baillieston police Buchanan St

February 27, 2013 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | 2 Comments

Police asked to probe Commonwealth Games land deals

Commonwealth Games signI really wish I had the time and inclination to use the Blog to mount some sort of anti-Commonwealth Games (I prefer Commonwealth Shames) campaign. The lies and waste of time and money surrounding this insane event, which only serves to pay for a few folk who stand to gain some career publicity to run around for a few days is incomprehensible.

There is also some insanity referred to as ‘Lasting Legacy’, supposedly set to bring pots of cash into Glasgow after the event, but I invite readers to read reports written 10-20 years after similar events and claims – IT DOESN’T HAPPEN!

History tells us this in the shape of abandoned and derelict stadium sites around the world, and financial windfalls that never… fell.

The ‘Lasting Legacy’ is nothing more than a dream of the promoters, a fantasy, and is a carrot on a stick, held out to convince investors to part with their cash to finance the games money-pit.

We’ve already seen the Commonwealth Games chief breaking the rules and leaving his post in disgrace:

BBC News – Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games chief John Scott quits

Glasgow Commonwealth Games chief resigns after breaking gift rules | Glasgow and West | STV News

Only thing that comes to my mind about this single resignation is the warning that “Where there’s one mouse, there’s usually more“.

Now we have allegations of millions being paid out by Glasgow City Council for land which was purchased not all that long before it was known that it would need to be purchased for games’ use, or could have been acquired for significantly less if compulsory purchase powers has been exercised:

Multi-million pound land deals linked to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow are to be looked at by police.

The move follows a complaint by SNP MSP James Dornan, who represents the city’s Cathcart constituency.

He wants to establish whether public money was misused in some deals.

In one case a property developer was paid £17m for land which cost him £8m. Another saw former Rangers owner David Murray’s company paid £5.1m for land it bought for £375,000 a few years before.

Via: – BBC News – Police asked to probe Commonwealth Games land deals.

I wonder what else will come to light before we get to 2014?

January 4, 2012 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Python used to threaten police officers in Edinburgh

Snake headWhen I wrote this post only for interest as an unusual occurrence: Python used as weapon in street attack, I never imagined I would be repeating the exercise. But, almost a year and a half later, a similar event has taken place in Scotland. In that case, gang members used a snake as a weapon when they used a 4 foot (1.2 m) python to attack a 14-year-old boy, who was pinned to the floor as one gang member forced the green python to attack, and bite the teenager’s arm.

In this case, police were threatened with a baby python while questioning an Edinburgh man in his home, regarding noise.

He wrapped the snake around his neck, and waved the snake in the officer’s faces, after which he was arrested and jailed while continuing to shout and swear.

He has since appeared in court, where sentence was deferred pending background reports – the man’s defence agent stated his client had previously served with the Armed Forces, and had mental difficulties, for which he was currently receiving help.


You have to believe that the snake’s owner does indeed have some sort of mental problem, having chosen to wrap a python, even a ‘baby’ around his neck. They may not be venomous, but that does not mean they are not dangerous, especially to children.

Pythons are constrictors, and kill their prey by a process known as constriction. After they grasped their victim to restrain it, they will quickly form a number of coils around it. By applying and maintaining sufficient pressure to prevent it from inhaling, the allow it only to exhale or relax its muscles. This means it can never draw breath, and eventually succumbs due to asphyxiation.

February 7, 2011 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

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