Rank and file police scornful at courses teaching them how to drive

West Yorkshire Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison
West Yorkshire Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison
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Yorkshire’s largest police force hopes to save almost £200,000 a year by teaching its officers to drive more carefully.

West Yorkshire Police will also consider using electric cars in the future as it strives to reduce pollution and shave millions from its energy bills. The proposals form part of a five-year carbon reduction plan designed to cut the force’s emissions by 20 per cent but they have been greeted with derision by rank-and-file officers, who see little need for training courses to change their driving habits.

West Yorkshire, which faces budget cuts of almost £100m, spent £3.3m on vehicle fuel last year, plus £2.4m on electricity, £789,000 on gas, £350,000 on water and £20,000 on heating oil.

It wants to introduce “eco-driver training” to all officers who regularly use its vehicles, encouraging them to accelerate more gently, decelerate more smoothly and avoid revving the engine. Beat vehicles will be switched from Vauxhall Astras to more fuel-efficient Vauxhall Corsas and officers will be persuaded to video conferences more to save on business mileage.

The force will also consider using electric vehicles and installing charging points if the technology becomes more reliable. Andrew Tempest-Mitchell, the chairman of West Yorkshire Police Federation, representing rank-and-file officers, said: “It seems a bit much to actually have a training programme to teach officers things that most drivers will consider to be common sense.”

A spokesman for the force said officers would not be asked to drive more slowly when responding to 999 calls.

West Yorkshire Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison said: “The same processes we use to identify carbon emission savings can also be used to find financial savings and improve the efficiency of our officers and staff.”