Fleet News

A blue light fleet that ensures a green focus

RUNNING a police fleet can be one of the most demanding jobs in the industry as vehicles play a vital part in helping prevent and respond to crime.

As a result, it can prove difficult to keep environmental issues on the agenda in such a demanding culture.

But John Bradley, fleet manager for Hampshire Police, has proved over many years that it is possible to run an efficient, effective fleet operation while still putting green issues at the heart of the business.

Bradley runs a fleet of 600 cars, 206 vans and 20 motorcycles, but his responsibilities don't stop there. He also oversees the operation of three police launches, 65 items of plant and four workshops, with an overall departmental budget of £5.6 million.

And he has remained focused despite a battle with prostate cancer for which he is currently receiving treatment.

Bradley's career with the police force has spanned more than 36 years and he spends the majority of his time keeping the fleet under control, sitting on a range of committees including the force's health and safety committee and the environmental committee.

Although he has introduced a host of initiatives during his time in the job, he is still enthusiastically introducing schemes.

For example, current initiatives include the introduction of dual fuel liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vehicles, with 22 Ford Fiestas and three Transits currently on the fleet, with more set to be introduced.

A Toyota Prius hybrid is currently being trialled, while a new generation Prius and a Honda Civic IMA has also been ordered.

Poster campaigns are also a major aspect of his work, with a call for drivers to 'Use Your Head Not Your Foot' aimed at cutting back on the force's current £1.5 million a year fuel bill.

Bradley said: 'Overall emission levels are being reduced through ensuring that as and when vehicles are replaced, the new models have emission levels with a reduced impact on the environment.'

Although motorcycles may be seen as environmentally-friendly in some cases, Bradley has reduced the number on the fleet because they lack flexibility.

In March last year, Bradley revealed Hampshire Police had reduced its motorcycle fleet from 126 bikes to less than 50 after a review of costs between cars and bikes and the number is now about 20.

The reduction has been going on gradually over the past seven years. After reviewing various aspects of the fleet, the force decided it would be more economical to re-invest in cars.

Bradley said: 'We looked at the costs of running our fleet of bikes as they can be quite high. We believe they are not as fuel-efficient as cars and maintenance costs, such as replacing tyres, can also be quite high. For a similar price, you can buy a small car which would also accommodate other people.'

Wholelife costs and aspects of risk management were also assessed alongside the methods of policing for motorcycles.

Police bikes have additional requirements in comparison to ordinary motorcycle fleets. As special equipment is required, the handling and weight of the bike can be affected. It can also increase the drag of the machine, which in turn affects fuel economy.

As well as picking the right vehicles, emphasising the importance of route planning has also paid dividends for Bradley.

He said: 'We have been working with the traffic department to reduce unnecessary mileage, including a plan to provide strategic parking facilities, thus reducing fuel costs while on patrol duty. This alone is estimated to save at least £10,000 in fuel costs per year.'

Hampshire Constabulary has also been heavily involved in the Alternative Traffic in Towns Project and has even introduced mountain bikes for bobbies, complete with helmet cameras, to record both sound and image while remaining hands-free.

One campaign that will strike a chord with many fleet decision-makers throughout the country will be the correct fuel awareness initiative Bradley is running. He has been trying to raise awareness of the problem of mis-fuelling for many years, including in 2001 when he offered other forces and corporate fleets throughout the country the chance to use a hard-hitting poster campaign designed to educate his own drivers.

And as far back as 2001, he was also raising awareness that good environmental practice means good economic practice.

Speaking at a Green Fleet Conference, Bradley said: 'As a fleet manager of a police vehicle fleet that covers millions of miles a year I feel I have a duty of care to implement an environmental strategy.

'Anything that can be done to reduce fuel costs will also benefit the environment by reducing harmful emissions.'

Bradley called on fleet managers to look at the big picture when developing a transport policy and called for companies to develop e-commerce strategies to reduce the miles driven by sales reps.

And technology is also being used in the fight against waste, with Bradley trialling a number of navigational aids in order to reduce unnecessary mileage, save fuel and help officers get to the scene of an incident more quickly.

One officer reported that this led directly to an arrest, as the system guided him so quickly to the scene of a crime in an unfamiliar area that he was able to arrest the offender before he could get away.

And in keeping with the department's environmental commitment, it publishes a quality assurance service level agreement, which includes a specific average vehicle economy indicator.

Despite his commitment to the environment, Bradley also ensures that safety and cost remain as high priorities.

Drivers are kept up to date on daily checks for vehicles and a number of initiatives have been introduced aimed at reducing blameworthy incidents, including a series of poster campaigns.

The force has taken on board recommendations made in the Driving at Work guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive, while courses covering specialist driver training and vehicle equipment have been created.

One of the most recent initiatives is the introduction of in-car data recorders, designed to assist the investigation of police vehicle incidents, as they can capture a range of data, including vehicle speed, direction and equipment in use at the time, such as siren or flashing lights. Such attention to detail has been recognised in the past with a Fleet News Special Award, presented in 2000.

This latest environmental award recognises a determined and long-term commitment to helping the environment which has acted as a guiding light to other fleets, both in the police force and in the commercial fleet market.

Bradley, who has just been awarded a Fellowship of the Motor Industry, said: 'I was born into the motor industry, as my father had one of the first Renault dealerships. It has always been a passion because the industry and the job is so diverse. 'I am over the moon about this award. Running a large fleet is all about teamwork and I have great support from my team.'

Profile

2001: Fleet News Fleet Manager of the Year over-250 vehicles finalist
2000: Fleet News Special Award
1999: Highly Commended Fleet News Environmental Award
1999: Winchester City Green Fleet Awards Scheme Gold Award

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