Fleet News

Police expect big cuts in fleet size

The number of cars, vans and motorbikes operated by Britain’s police could be cut by up to 25%.

The chancellor will announce where the axe will fall in his autumn spending review on October 20 and a downward trend in the number of police vehicles is set to continue.

“Everyone is awaiting the announcement on budgets in October, but all forces are currently expecting an approximate 25% cut,” explained explains Richard Flint, chairman of the National Association of Police Fleet Managers (NAPFM).  

“Fleet managers are reviewing all the costs involved in running their fleets and this includes the possible reduction in fleet sizes.”

England, Scotland and Wales operate a combined fleet of 35,420 cars, vans and motorcycles, plus thousands of additional specialist vehicles, including HGVs, quad bikes, tractors and trailers.

However, 21 out of 47 forces made cuts to their fleet sizes in 2009/10, while 14 remained unchanged, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

It’s also a trend that looks set to continue, after Fleet News was told by individual forces that they were already planning to operate in the future with fewer police cars, vans and motorbikes.

Northamptonshire Police says it is planning to cut its 420-strong fleet by between 50 and 100 vehicles after reducing it by 20 during the previous year.

“As part of a wider review, the transport department was tasked with looking at the current fleet and establishing what efficiencies could be made,” said Graham Crow, transport manager, Northamptonshire Police.

“They identified all of the vehicles that travelled less than 10,000 miles in the last year and entered into a consultation process with area commanders to establish if there was a more efficient way for those vehicles to be used.”

As a result, 16 vehicles have been immediately removed from the fleet and discussions are on-going to establish if any more are able to be removed.

Elsewhere, South Wales Police now operates a fleet of 830 vehicles after reducing numbers by 38 in 2009/10 and is planning for further 20% cut over the next five years.

Leicestershire Police cut its fleet by 40 to 454 vehicles in 2009/10 and says it is now planning to offload at least another 20 vehicles with an initial cut of nearly 5%.

Meanwhile, Devon and Cornwall has already reduced its fleet by around 7% (82 vehicles) and expects further cuts, while Norfolk and Suffolk constabularies are sharing some duties with each other to help reduce vehicle numbers.

“We will see an increasing shift to diesel vehicles and also vehicles that achieve higher MPGs. We may even see limits on miles that can be travelled,” concluded Flint.

For more on managing fleet costs, come to the Fleet News fleet costs section.

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