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Police re-fuel errors cost £30,000

PUBLISHED: 12:15 15 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:10 03 July 2010

BLUNDERING police officers and staff have cost Norfolk Constabulary more than £30,000 in the last six years - by putting the wrong fuel in vehicles.

In 2007-08 alone the repair bill for rectifying vehicles damaged by so-called “mis-fuelling” topped £8,000.

BLUNDERING police officers and staff have cost Norfolk Constabulary more than £30,000 in the last six years - by putting the wrong fuel in vehicles.

In 2007-08 alone the repair bill for rectifying vehicles damaged by so-called “mis-fuelling” topped £8,000.

During that year there were 33 incidents where either diesel was used in petrol vehicles or vice-versa. Until last year there was more than one incident a fortnight on average. In 2005-06, the wrong fuel was used 36 times.

But the force now hopes the number of incidents will be slashed after introducing a device which bleeps to remind drivers to check the fuel type.

Even after its introduction, however, Norfolk police was forced to spend £1,900 during the 2008-09 financial year on repairing vehicles damaged by mis-fuelling.

Mark Davy, the force's head of fleet, said: “We have introduced an ancillary device to all vehicles which is helping prevent the number of incidents where incorrect fuel is used.

“The device, which has a nominal cost, omits an audible warning when the fuel cap is opened to remind users to verify the fuel type.

“All constabulary Mondeo vehicles now have fuel tanks which only accept fuel pump nozzles correlating to the correct fuel.

“For the 2008-09 financial year, the cost to rectify such incidents was only £1,900 in comparison to £8,000 the previous year which demonstrates the effectiveness of such a device.”

Over the previous five financial years, from 2003-04 to 2007-08, the force spent a total of £28,803 on repair bills for a total of 161 mis-fuelling incidents.

In comparison, Suffolk police, which has had measures in place to help prevent mis-fuelling for some time, spent £6,101 on repairs from 2005-06 to 2007-08. In that time there were 38 incidents.

A spokesman for the force said: “There are now a number of measures in place to help reduce this type of incident.

“Most new vehicles purchased by the constabulary are equipped with a new device to prevent mis-fueling while older vehicles have been fitted with another device, costing just 25p per vehicle, which makes it clear which fuel should be used and is already reducing such incidents.”

The data were revealed in a Freedom of Information Act request which asked forces across the country to list how much they had spent on repairs caused by fuel errors. Cambridgeshire police did not have figures.

The worst offender was the Met, which spent £194,212 on mis-fuelling repair work in only three years. Its officers confused petrol and diesel 671 times.

TaxPayers' Alliance chief executive Matthew Elliott said: “It is shocking that so many police cars are being wrecked by stupid errors.

“Every car damaged is thousands of pounds diverted away from the fight against crime. One would hope our police were more on the ball.”

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