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January 7, 2010updated 12 Apr 2017 4:28pm

UK police forces’ £132m leasing bill sparks procurement row

A report issued by the Liberal Democrat party has revealed that Britain's police forces spent more than £132 million (146.7 million) on the leasing and hiring of vehicles between 2004 and 2009 a figure that has prompted widespread questioning over the effectiveness of public sector fleet management. The document, compiled from Freedom of Information requests to police forces, revealed a nationwide hire bill of £70,000 daily, a figure which Liberal Democrat shadow home secretary Chris Huhne called "unnecessarily lavish".

By Fred Crawley

A report issued by the Liberal Democrat party has revealed that Britain’s police forces spent more than £132 million (€146.7 million) on the leasing and hiring of vehicles between 2004 and 2009 – a figure that has prompted widespread questioning over the effectiveness of public sector fleet management.

The document, compiled from Freedom of Information requests to police forces, revealed a nationwide hire bill of £70,000 daily, a figure which Liberal Democrat shadow home secretary Chris Huhne called “unnecessarily lavish”.

He continued: “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. The Association of Chief Police Officers should issue forces with guidance about the best use of hire cars.”

However, Meredydd Hughes, the chief constable of South Yorkshire Police (which spent £2.5 million on vehicle hire), said that his force was “proud of the way it uses the public’s resources”, stating that hire options were often “more cost effective” than outright purchase.

“This is a story that isn’t a story,” he said.

The figures behind the report do not break down the amount spent by forces on short term rental versus long term contract hire and lease agreements, leaving many questions unanswered as to exactly how the money was used.

But whatever contracts were signed, with more than 60 articles about the report appearing in national and regional press this week, police fleet managers are now under more pressure than ever to re-examine their procurement strategy.

Fred Crawley 

Do you have experience of leasing to UK police? Could police forces save more public money through better leasing and contract hire choices? Write to fred.crawley@vrlfinancialnews.com with your thoughts.

A closer look at police procurement will appear in February’s edition of Leasing Life.

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