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£1.5m crash repair bill for West Midlands emergency vehicles

Staffordshire | News | Published:

More than £1.5 million was spent repairing emergency services' vehicles involved in crashes, figures reveal today.

West Midlands Police was the biggest spender, having to splash out more than £1 million to repair damaged cars following hundreds of collisions.

West Midlands Ambulance, West Mercia Police and Staffordshire Police spent six-figure sums. West Midlands Fire Service spent just £22,000.

The figures come from a Freedom of Information request submitted by the Express & Star.

Bosses say they use a variety of ways to keep costs down, including sourcing local garages and using recycled parts when repairing vehicles.

Gary Mallett, fleet manager for West Midlands Police, said there were many reasons that police cars needed fixing, including where trained officers use 'controlled tactical contact' to end an incident.

Mr Mallett said: "During 2013/14 there were over 350 collisions where police vehicles were hit by other drivers - with no blame attributable to the police driver - criminally damaged or occasionally where controlled tactical contact was made to bring a safe ending to a particular incident.

"Some of these incidents require West Midlands Police to fund the repair or replacement police vehicle.

"Certain specialist roles within the force, like traffic policing, require high-performance vehicles in order to tackle offenders who may be driving similarly capable vehicles to commit crime on the region's road network - and such cars can be expensive to repair."

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Staffordshire Police spent just over £185,000 repairing vehicles.

Faye Casey, spokeswoman for Staffordshire Police, said: "Repairs to police vehicles are done at local garages in order to minimise the amount of time the vehicle is off the road.

"We obtain three quotes and get the best possible price we can before the work is carried out. We also source recycled parts wherever possible to keep the cost down further.

"The total cost of repairs to vehicles in 2013/14 was a fair price for the work that needed doing.

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"All police officers engaged on responding to incidents who may claim an exemption under road traffic legislation are required to successfully complete a driving assessment every four years.

"It is worth noting that officers travel thousands of miles a year in the course of their duties keeping our communities safe and reassured."

West Mercia Police spent almost £320,000 repairing their vehicles, but Dave Newbold, head of transport services at West Mercia Police, said they have a scheme called Mr Green Fleet, where they use spare parts to salvage vehicles that would otherwise be written off.

He said: "Unfortunately, police road traffic accidents are inevitable, taking into consideration the number of vehicles we operate and the scale of the areas that we cover.

"The majority of incidents that occur are minor, but historically we have had a number of vehicles that have been classed as 'write off's'.

"Over the last twelve months this figure has significantly reduced.

"We use a scheme, called My Green Fleet, which allows us to purchase parts, such as bonnets, headlights and radiators, to allow us to repair what would have been potentially a write off for a fraction of the retail price."

The lowest spender across the emergency services was West Midlands Fire Service, who spent £22,456.80.

The most amount of money they spent was when a fire engine reversed out of a car parking space and caught another vehicle - costing the service £2,353.67.

Neil Spencer, a spokesman for the fire service, said: "Our vehicles travel hundreds of thousands of miles a year on emergency and other journeys, the vast majority without incident. This reflects our drivers' very high levels of training and professionalism.

"However, accidents do happen and, when they do, we investigate, learn from and act upon them."

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