South Scotland

Fuel errors cost Scottish police thousands

Fuel pumps
Image caption Fuel errors have cost police forces across Scotland thousands of pounds

More than £60,000 has been spent draining and repairing police vehicles in the past five years after the wrong type of fuel was put in their tanks.

Strathclyde Police spent more than double the amount of any other force, with a bill of £22,536 since 2007.

Scotland's biggest force, which has 1,121 vehicles in its fleet, recorded 185 incidents of misfuelling.

Fife Constabulary had two instances, both in 2008, each costing £5,100, giving a total spend of £10,200.

It said there had been no other incidents between 2007 and 2012.

Grampian Police, which has had a total of 76 misfuelling incidents since 1 April 2007, spent £9,936 fixing its vehicles.

Lothian and Borders and Tayside paid out a little more than £5,600 each.

However, while Tayside recorded 26 incidents, Lothian and Borders only had seven.

'High labour costs'

One incident in 2007 in the Lothian and Borders force area, involving a BMW, cost £5,221.53.

The vehicle had been run after it was misfuelled, meaning it needed a completely new fuel system, tank, new fuel lines and injectors.

A spokeswoman for the force said: "The job was carried out at a BMW dealer to keep the warranty valid and therefore there were high labour costs as well."

Central Scotland Police has recorded 25 incidents since 2006, costing £5,339.51, while Dumfries and Galloway paid out the least of all Scotland's forces, with a bill of only £526.31 for 10 incidents.

Northern Constabulary said it was unable to provide annual figures as they were not stored electronically but said it believed the number of incidents was down to "one or two per year", costing up to £150 each time.

It said: "The fleet manager notes that we have a reducing number of these incidents each year as officers are made more aware of the potential issues.

"We have fitted misfuel prevention devices to most of our vehicles.

"Our most recent vehicles already have a misfuel prevention device fitted.

"It is standard practice that the vehicle converters fit the devices to vehicles prior to initial deployment."

The figures were obtained through a freedom of information request to all eight of Scotland's police forces.

'Avoidable error'

Lothian and Borders Police, which has 620 vehicles in its fleet, said: "The majority (of) Lothian and Borders vehicles are filled at a bunkered site, which is key controlled to the product.

"This eliminates misfuelling internally.

"In all cases the vehicles were diesel models and were incorrectly fuelled with petrol."

Campaign group Taxpayer Scotland said such mistakes could cost police forces a "fortune" in cash and resources.

The group's Robert Oxley said: "Simple measures such as reminders on fuel caps would help ensure officers don't repeat this kind of avoidable error.

"Individuals should have to take responsibility for the costs incurred if they continually make the same blunders."

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