CRASHES involving police vehicles in station car parks have cost taxpayers thousands of pounds in repair bills, The News can reveal.
Since March 2008 there have been 43 bumps at station car parks in Havant, Fratton, Waterlooville, Fareham, Southsea, Gosport, Cosham, Portsmouth Central and Park Gate.
The incidents – revealed through a Freedom of Information request – amount to more than £7,000 in repair works.
Sean Woodward, vice chairman of Hampshire Police Authority’s finance committee, says the figures need to be taken into context.
Cllr Woodward said: ‘Local police drive 15 million miles and the force spends £5.3m on transport each year.
‘These figures need to be in perspective and that they are responding in a rush to protect the public.’
Last year, 13 police cars in the Portsmouth area were involved in incidents due to careless driving and cost the force £2,457.
One police car in Fareham Police Station’s car park needed £1,904 of repair work done after the driver ‘misjudged a clearance’.
Kevin Fripp, driving standards manager for Hampshire Police, defended the cost, saying: ‘As with any organisation with a large fleet of cars, accidents do inevitably happen.
‘Steps are taken to reduce and prevent accidents and all police drivers have to check and account for the condition of vehicles every time they use it. Officers get extensive training if they drive police vehicles, ranging from just travelling from A to B in a patrol car, to specialist roles, like training to deal with high-speed pursuits.
‘Until they pass the assessment relevant to their level of driving, they are not permitted to drive.
‘Depending on the circumstances, officers who are involved in accidents while driving police cars can be grounded from driving until they complete a new assessment, which can be focused on manoeuvring for example.
‘Officers are not permitted to drive again until they pass the assessment.’
But Emma Boon, campaign manager for the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘While the figures seem low, plainly speaking the accidents should be preventable.’