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Police run up huge hire car bill

PUBLISHED: 09:12 04 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:03 03 July 2010

Norfolk police has spent almost £2.5m on hire cars to bolster its frontline fleet over the last five years.

The bill dwarfs that of neighbour-ing forces and is on a par with far larger constabularies, but a spokesman said the decision to hire rather than buy a number of police cars had actually saved taxpayers money.

Norfolk police has spent almost £2.5m on hire cars to bolster its frontline fleet over the last five years.

The bill dwarfs that of neighbour-ing forces and is on a par with far larger constabularies, but a spokesman said the decision to hire rather than buy a number of police cars had actually saved taxpayers money.

Since 2004, Norfolk's hire car bill has reached £2.48m compared to £753,000 in Cambridgeshire and £378,000 in Suffolk. Greater Manchester police, one of the biggest forces in the country, spent £2.5m.

A Norfolk police spokesman said that a large proportion of the vehicles were fitted with blues and two and used for frontline duties. In many cases, vehicles have been hired because, when maintenance and the cost of replacements are taken into account, it can represent better value for money than buying.

Spokesman Harry Mitchell added: “Caution needs to be exercised when comparing figures. Norfolk Constabulary's figures include costs for all vehicle hire and not just cars.

“This includes cars, vans, mini-buses and motorcycles for frontline and training purposes. The figures are also old - this financial year the constabulary has achieved signific-ant savings in vehicle hire costs as part of its continual review process.

“In April, responsibilities of vehicle hire transferred from district control to a centralised fleet management department.”

Efforts have been made to cut the bill and the forecast expenditure for the current financial year is £430,000 compared to £493,000 last year.

The figures were obtained by the Liberal Democrats using the Freedom of Information Act. Police forces across Britain have spent more than £70,000 a day on hire cars over the last five years.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: “At a time when police budgets are under extreme pressure, it seems unnecessarily lavish to be spending over £70,000 a day on hire cars.

“Hiring cars at appropriate times can save forces money, but if they are being hired while police cars are not in use, it is simply a waste of taxpayers' money.”


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