By Kirsty Topping
BUNGLING Scottish police have cost taxpayers at least 80,000 by putting the wrong kind of fuel in their patrol cars.
Almost 350 police vehicles had to be taken off the road after officers filled up petrol cars with diesel or diesel cars with petrol.
In one force, two top-of-the-range BMWs had their engines totally ruined by careless police, costing the force a whopping 5000 each time.
Official figures show that the fuelling mistakes cost almost 60,000 in avoidable garage bills. It is estimated that fuel worth a further 20,000 had to be thrown away.
And losing hundreds of patrol cars for at least a day each as the mistakes were fixed is unlikely to have helped in the fight against crime in Scotland.
Taxpayers’ groups last night blasted the police over the
Police forces admitted they have been forced to fit fool-proof fuelling systems on their cars to stop the bungles.
The figures show that 343 police cars were filled with the wrong fuel over the past five years, costing 59,847 in garage bills.
Scotland’s biggest police force, Strathclyde, was responsible for 217 of the incidents which cost 28,000 in garage bills alone.
But Fife Police were responsible for the worst blunders. Two BMW X5 patrol cars, costing at least 60,000 each, were filled with the wrong fuel.
The engines of both vehicles were ruined and the force was handed a total garage bill of 10,200 to get them back on the road.
Amazingly, Tayside Police made the problem worse AFTER they took steps to stop misfuelling.
The force had just two incidents in 2008. The same year they put stickers on fuel caps and started to buy diesel cars that could not take petrol.
But in 2009, Tayside officers somehow managed to misfuel eight cars.
Over the period, police in Grampian misfuelled 65 cars, Dumfries and Galloway 10, Northern nine, and Central five.
Scotland’s second-biggest force, Lothian and Borders, were relatively careful with eight cars misfuelled, although the cost of repairs was high at almost 6,000.
Based on an average price of a 50 litre tank of fuel, it is estimated that over the five year period forces have thrown away at least 20,000 in contaminated fuel.
Emma Boon, campaign director at the Taxpayers Alliance, said:
“These are silly mistakes that the police should be able to avoid easily.
“With a range of potential measures from stickers to special adapters preventing misfueling and even audio warnings, there are plenty of ways for forces to minimise the chance of this happening.
“In the end, it will come down to proper care and attention when filling up. Drivers need to pay more attention when filling up their patrol cars so that money that could be spent fighting crime isn’t going down the drain. “
A spokesman for the RAC said: “Misfuelling is a problem for all motorists and it’s clear that the police are not immune.
“Given the cost to the taxpayer of these mistakes we would expect the police to regularly communicate the importance of putting the correct fuel into the vehicle.”
A spokesman for Fife Police said:
“Fife Constabulary can confirm that since the two incidents in 2008, steps have been taken to ensure that this type of incident cannot be repeated.
A spokeswoman for Strathclyde police said they had more than halved the number of incidents over the five year period.
“Misfuelling devices have been added to the vehicles, these are now fitted as standard for new vehicles. Identification labels have been put on vehicles both internally and externally. “
Tayside Police said they had now taken further steps to prevent the problem. A Tayside Police spokesman said:
“While the overall numbers are extremely small compared with the occasions that each vehicle in the Force’s fleet is re-fuelled in any given year, it has been recognised that further measures were required.
“An industry-approved standard device is being retrospectively fitted to vehicles that do not already have a manufacturer misfuelling prevention device. It is expected this will help to further mitigate against any human error. “
Dumfries and Galloway’s fleet manager, Sergeant Billy Broatch, attributed their low costs to officers realizing their mistake before getting back into the car.
“While it is unfortunate that mis-fuelling happens, early identification of the matter has helped keep costs down through not driving the vehicle.
“Repair costs incurred through driving a vehicle with the wrong fuel in it can be much more costly. The force now has an all diesel fleet which will hopefully reduce the number of mis-fuelling incidents in the future. “
TABLEStrathclyde 217 – 28,068Grampian 65 – 8,228Tayside 27 – 5,370D&G 10 – 505Northern 9 – 985L&B 8 – 5,737Central 5 – 754Fife 2 – 10,200.