SCOTS police officers have been caught using patrol cars as late night taxis.
At least 14 police officers have been cautioned for making unauthorised journeys in force vehicles.
In one incident in Aberdeen two officers used a squad car to take off-duty colleagues home from a night out – even using blue flashing lights during the trip.
In each instance an internal probe was launched and officers were issued with a formal warning after being found guilty of “misuse of a police vehicle.”
Officers have also been cautioned for the unauthorised use of police signs and the misuse of letter headed paper.
Labour’s shadow justice secretary, Lewis Macdonald, said: “This is not reaching the high standards expected of our public services. The police know what the rules are and should follow them.”
Margaret Mitchell, Tory MSP for Central Scotland, added: “This is very unfortunate.”
One incident saw an officer from Fife given a warning for going on a “private” drive outside the force area.
Police in Central Scotland, Northern, Strathclyde and Tayside have also been carpeted for misuse of squad cars over the past five years.
The identities of the officers involved have not been revealed, but none of them were sacked, despite falsifying mileage logs being an offence.
Robert Oxely, of Taxpayer Scotland, said: “Taxpayers pay for squad cars and the coppers in them to catch criminals, not give free rides to their pals. If an emergency call had come in what would officers have done with their passenger?”
Brian Docherty, chair of the Scottish Police Federation, said: “The bottom line is patrol cars are for police business only. Any officer who steps out of line will face consequences.”
A spokesman for Grampian Police said: “Careful consideration was given and appropriate action taken.”
A Fife Police spokesman added: “A full investigation was carried out and disciplinary action was deemed to be the most appropriate course of action.”
Last month, two Scottish police officers were exposed for parking on a disabled bay.
The pair left their patrol car on the clearly marked bay at a shopping centre – although there were many empty spaces just a short distance away.
They were caught out by a 53-year-old woman who is registered disabled with a heart condition and was furious to see them taking up a space.
In 2008 three police officers in Wales were forced to resign, and two were fined after being caught taking patrol cars for day trips to tourist resorts.
It was claimed the “seaside five” had been taking part in a dare competition to see which one could drive furthest from their station in Gwent without being caught.
Their cover was eventually blown when a patrol car broke down over the English border.