Suffolk: Police count the cost of filling their cars with wrong fuel

SUFFOLK: Bungling officers have cost the county’s police more than �5,000 in only two years – after filling up cop cars with the wrong fuel.

Nearly one in eight of the force’s fleet of diesel vehicles – more than 13 per cent – was filled incorrectly between 2008/09 and 2009/10 at a cost to the taxpayer of �5,778.

Suffolk Constabulary was the fifth worst-offending force after the Metropolitan police, Essex, Leicestershire and Warwickshire.

The figures can be made public following a Freedom of Information request.

They reveal that over the two-year period, 50 of Suffolk’s 374 diesel cars were damaged. Each cost an average of �115 to repair, in labour, parts and recovery costs.

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The response to the request also states that since 2007, 81 of Suffolk police’s vehicles have been mis-fuelled at a cost of �10,301.

As a result, the constabulary has fitted special caps on vehicles to warn officers which fuel to use. A police spokesman said the measure had been a success, with the number of mis-fuels falling to only eight last year.

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“Unfortunately even police officers and staff are prone to making mistakes such as this and it is down to human error,” said the spokesman.

“However, as the figures suggest, effective measures have been put in place by Suffolk Constabulary’s transport services department to prevent this from occurring. Coloured caps and labels indicate which fuel should be used.”

The spokesman added: “The disc has to be moved out of the way before the fuel cap can be removed and the fuel pump nozzle inserted.

“While the discs are not fool proof they are a very low-cost preventative measure and have generally been effective in reducing the number of mis-fuelling.

“Furthermore, we also have a number of vehicles in our fleet which will not accept the incorrect nozzle when refuelling.”

Suffolk police were among 43 forces in England and Wales that responded to a Freedom of Information request for incidents in 2009 and 2010.

The worst offending force, the Metropolitan Police, racked up a repair bill of �172,970 after almost one in six of their vehicles were filled up incorrectly.

And in Essex 15.3 per cent of the fleet had to be repaired, costing �21,940 over the two-year period.

n Are you surprised at the figures? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starnews@evening

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