One police car beaks down each day, claims Labour

13 April 2019, 09:13 | Updated: 13 April 2019, 10:02

Police Scotland

The equivalent of one police car a day breaks down while on patrol in Scotland, Scottish Labour has claimed.

According to statistics obtained under a freedom of information (FOI) request by the party, 349 police cars broke down last year - a rise of 100 on 2017.

The highest number of breakdowns occurred in February, with 44 recorded.

September was the month with the lowest number of breakdowns last year, with 10 recorded.

An FOI by the Scottish Liberal Democrats last month revealed more than 250 cars in Police Scotland's fleet are over a decade old.

Scottish Labour justice spokesman Daniel Johnson said: "No wonder criminals fancy their chances in Sturgeon's Scotland when the police are driving clapped-out bangers.

"A police car is breaking down patrolling Scotland's streets almost every day and it is a problem that is getting worse.

"Police Scotland is getting nowhere near the level of funding it needs to maintain a modern fleet.

"You can't keep communities safe on the cheap and in government Labour will give our police the resources they need to look for criminals, not the nearest mechanic."

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament earlier this month, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf accused opposition MSPs of "crying crocodile tears" over police funding, having voted against the budget that was agreed earlier this year.

Mr Yousaf said funding for the annual policing budget would rise to more than £1.2 billion in 2019/20 and a £100 million resource protection would be provided up until 2021.

Calum Steele, general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, said: "The only thing that is surprising in these official figures is that they are so low.

"The condition of much of the police vehicle fleet is nothing short of a disgrace, breakdowns are commonplace and officers routinely highlight that more vehicles are off the road than on it.

"In the past few weeks we have seen a police van catch fire, another needed a continual hand on the gear stick to ensure it didn't jump out of gear whilst in motion, and both were incapable of keeping the rain out.

"This is a matter that ought to embarrass both the Government and the Scottish Police Authority.

"The derisory capital funding for the police service gives little hope things will improve anytime soon.

"We risk a farcical reality that those charged with keeping unsafe vehicles off our roads will be increasingly asked to do so from vehicles which are barely road legal in themselves."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "While the allocation of resources is for the Chief Constable and SPA to determine, we are protecting the police resource budget in real terms in every year of the current Parliament, delivering a boost of £100 million by 2021.

"Total Scottish Government funding for the SPA in 2019-20 is increasing by £42.3 million, bringing the annual policing budget to more than £1.2 billion.

"This includes a 52% increase to the capital budget - providing £12 million more - which will fund essential investment in IT infrastructure and support mobile working for officers, allowing them to access information remotely and spend more time in communities.

"We continue to press the UK Government for a refund of the £125 million paid by Police Scotland in VAT between 2013 and 2018."