Figures released by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) show that the number of deaths involving police vehicles rose to 48 during 2005/06, a five-fold increase since 1997.
A report in The Daily Mail quoted representatives from safety organisation RoadPeace, which said there was a lack of training for officers, exacerbated by Home Office targets that put forces under pressure to respond to incidents. The Police Federation has also warned that forces were failing to fund proper training for police drivers.
But Steve Botham, fleet manager of Wiltshire Police and chairman of the National Association of Police Fleet Managers, denied the accusations of insufficient training, saying: ‘The training that’s provided by the police is more than adequate.
John Gorton, head of transport at Essex Police, agreed, adding: ‘Training is very stringent within the police service. There are operational circumstances for police officers which are continually addressed and reviewed and we make sure we buy the best vehicles for the appropriate role.’
Gorton added that most driver training was not overseen by fleet managers but by dedicated police training organisations.
But he said: ‘Clearly it’s something that affects fleet managers. The issue of training and quality of training is of great interest to us and we’ve not seen a decline. If anything, it’s going the other way.’