Northern Constabulary in Scotland had previously refused to reveal the cost of providing Range Rovers to its chief constable and his deputy after being asked by a journalist working in Aberdeen.
The Press & Journal newspaper then lodged a complaint with the Scottish Information Commissioner, who ordered the force to reveal the amount of money it spends on providing the 4x4s, which can cost up to £56,000.
The force issued a statement saying the cost of the 3.0-litre Td5 Range Rovers was £27,155 for the chief constable and £27,750 for the deputy.
But Steve Botham, chairman of NAPFM, said that there are agreements in place that all tenders for police vehicles are ‘commercially in confidence’ and it would stay that way.
He said: ‘Releasing that sort of information would defeat the object of a tender. We won’t do it.’
Manufacturers are also keen to ensure that the discounted prices they offer to police fleets remain confidential for all manner of reasons, including public relations and keeping residual values strong.
Botham reckons that this incident is likely to have been a one-off, forced by particular ‘public interest’ circumstances in the area, most probably concerning benefits given to senior officers.
The Scottish force had earlier argued that releasing such information would be considered to be a breach of confidence by Land Rover and other vehicle manufacturers because of the discounts offered.
It added that police vehicles are procured nationally via an agreement with the Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO) which, since being launched five years ago, has saved an estimated £20 million on the purchase of vehicles for UK police forces.
A statement said: ‘The force maintains that these figures represent excellent value for money with the expectation that the sale of these vehicles in due course will at least realise the initial purchase cost thus demonstrating best value in use of public monies.’
Ordering the force to reveal the information, the commissioner said Northern Constabulary ‘failed to present a clear and cohesive case setting out why it was believed that the release of information would, or would be likely to, prejudice its commercial interests’.