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Sussex Police rely on ‘4th emergency service’
Hundreds of police officers are having to call on the support of the fourth emergency service.
Breakdown recovery teams were called out to help Sussex Police cars back onto the road once a day on average last year.
Police defended the figure saying the number included call-outs to cars damaged in incidents or by vandals and that cars were put through intensive usage around the clock.
In figures obtained by The Argus, Sussex Police called for the assistance of breakdown recovery on 345 occasions in 2012, compared with 328 times in 2011 and 751 in 2010.
The statistics suggest one in four of the force’s fleet of 1,132 vehicles broke down in the past 12 months.
Recovery teams were called out to a wide range of vehicles from Hyundai Getz, Fiat Puntos and Ford Focuses to more luxury vehicles including Land Rover Defenders, BMW 330s and Lexus IS 250s.
Sussex Police’s fleet of vehicles cover between 14 and 15 million miles a year.
A force spokesman said breakdown call-outs had no adverse impact on operational cover or the force’s ability to protect the public.
He added: “The figures, which we note have reduced by nearly half compared with two years ago, do not relate solely to police vehicle breakdowns.
“They include a wide variety of other matters such as accidental damage, damage in incidents and criminal damage.
“We obviously will not leave a vehicle which is defective for any reason, on the road and in each case the vehicle is returned to our workshops by an authorised recovery vehicle.
“The cars are serviced every 6,000 miles which is within manufacturers’ recommended intervals and recognises their intensive use.”
Bob Brown, the chairman of Sussex Police Federation, said: “The reliability of our vehicles is not an issue that any of our members have raised and we’ve not had any reports of cars breaking down while on an emergency calls which would have to be reported under health and safety regulations.
“Most of the vehicles are on the road 20 hours out of 24 and if we required that sort of performance from our family cars you would probably see a similar level of breakdown call-outs.”
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