As the London Conference on Zimbabwe Rhodesia enters its final stage the British Government has foreshadowed legislation authorising a Governor period leading to new elections.
SV: African buglers marching onto lawn and sounding company call.
SV: Police Chief inspecting on morning parade. (3 shots)
SV: Recruits running along roads.
CU: Recruits wearing white gym shoes
SV: Recruits in marching drill
SV: Recruits on assault course. (2 shots)
SV: Recruits wearing riot gear and training.
CU: Patrol officers with pistols (2 shots)
SV/CU: Recruits being shown how to administer injections (2 shots)
SV: Recruits riding horses.
GV: Women police recruits walking across yard.
SV: Bugler sounding last post as flag comes down.
COLE: "When Lord Carrington called the British-South Africa police a disciplined force there was no over statement. In the BSAP things are done by the book, a military one.
Morning parade is more akin to Aldershot than Scotland Yard. Founded in 1903 as the militia of the British-South Africa Company which then ran Rhodesia, the force clings to its traditions as it clings to its British name. Patrol officers, mainly white but including blacks with five O levels are subjected to the sort of discipline that's now history for Hendon cadets. These eighteen to twenty year olds are trained to be leaders. These are the led. Brand new recruits. Their gym shoes will be kept gleaming white and their new boots will be made to gleam. Their heads shaven, they'll drill for four months until they're accorded the rank of constable. It's a para-military force, trained and equipped to play its part in the guerrilla war. The police claim their assault course is the match of anything the army can devise.
And riot control is a major function. There's been no major civil disturbance since the sixties, but any political demonstrations which may be sanctioned during the election will meet firm opposition at the first sign of violence.
It's an armed police force. The P -one pistol is the smallest thing in the arsenal. The police have most of the arms available to the army and in operational areas wear combat uniform.
The BSAP is training for every eventually in the interim period before the election. First aid is carried out with more than the usual degree of realism. Besides their political impartiality the main question about the BSAP us simply whether it's strong enough to police the country during what will certainly be a time of tension and political passion.
The BSAP won't reveal its numbers but the accent on womens recruitment is just one symptom of a manpower problem.
Although they won't say so publicity, senior officers of the force are reluctantly prepared to serve under a British governor. When the Governor and British police advisors arrive they'll find the sort of police force that simply ceased to exist when the flag came down on other former parts of the British Empire.
REPORTER: MICHAEL COLE
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: As the London Conference on Zimbabwe Rhodesia enters its final stage the British Government has foreshadowed legislation authorising a Governor period leading to new elections. The Legislation will also set up the election machinery and take in security aspects. Just who will be responsible for security during the election run-up is still unresolved, but a large part of the task is expected to fall with the British South Africa Police force. The BBC's Michael Cole has been in Zimbabwe Rhodesia looking at the force's role.