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Even The Police Struggle With Car Maintenance Costs

By raccars Published

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Freedom of Information requests to all of the UK's 43 police forces have revealed that car maintenance budgets are being exceeded by the vast majority. Of those, six could not supply the data requested. The total cost of maintaining the UK's police vehicle fleets has been £127.5 million since 2011/2012.

Only three forces managed to keep within their budgets for the last three year period: City of London, Devon and Cornwall and Staffordshire. Eight forces managed to stick to their budgets in 2013/2014, with the remainder reporting overspends in the millions.

£105.3 million has been spent on maintenance in the form of periodic servicing, tyre replacement and the usual wear and tear since 2011/2012, while accident repairs added a further £22.2 million to the bill. The highest annual total was £45 million in 2013/2014, with accident repairs reaching £7.3 million. Northern Ireland chalked up the biggest total bill at £19 million, but also runs the largest total fleet, with 3,452 cars. Manchester police runs the second biggest fleet at 1,678 vehicles, followed by Thames Valley with 1,342.

A large part of the budget goes on contractors to perform the necessary work. For example, the 2,277 cars belonging to Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Thames Valley, have earned the Chiltern Transport Consortium £10.3 million in the last three years.

On average, the most expensive bills were for Gloucestershire, where 457 police vehicles cost £1.7 million in 2013/2014, which works out at £3,722 for each car. Nottinghamshire police cars were nearly as expensive, costing £3,558 each. The BMW X5 is the most expensive car to maintain overall, with the total bill for one single car coming to £21,267 in South Yorkshire. A BMW 5 Series Touring belonging to the Lancashire fleet cost £15,434 and one BMW 3 Series, owned again by South Yorkshire, cost £13,220.

While some of the costs faced by police forces are recouped by claiming against the insurance of at fault drivers, regular costs such as new tyres do mount up - police forces tend to replace the full set well in advance of the 1.6mm legal limit for tread depth, to make sure they can perform safely on wet roads and in high speed chases.

On top of the maintenance and repair costs is the fuel bill for the police fleet. Although exempt from VAT, high mileage means fuel costs can come to millions of pounds.

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