Hundreds of car crashes have led Sussex Police to make insurance claims totalling more than £2 million in just four years.
And the figure might well have been higher had the value of claims not halved during the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting lockdowns.
In the 2022-23 financial year alone, Sussex Police vehicles were involved in 171 crashes, with claims totalling more than £400,000.
The figures emerged at a “performance and accountability meeting” hosted by the Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne.
The force has a fleet of about 1,200 vehicles and Mrs Bourne said that the crashes were damaging its reputation.
Chief Constable Jo Shiner said that eight vehicles were written off at a cost of £94,608 – and this was low compared with other police forces.
She gave claims figures for the past four years
- 2019-20 £766,000
- 2022-21 £319,000
- 2021-22 £641,000
- 2022-23 £409,000
The chief constable is the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for roads policing. She said: “If you look at them – if you take away the covid (year) – they’re on a downward trajectory and I do believe that much of that is because of some of the initiatives and particularly the governance that we’ve brought in.”
One initiative has been a trial involving 10 police vehicles in Chichester with data collected using telematics – a way to monitor how vehicles are driven using GPS technology and on-board diagnostics to plot movements and performance.
Chief Constable Shiner said that the vehicles had been involved in six incidents before the trial and none during the monitoring period, saving the force an estimated £5,000.
She said that none of the officers who took part in the trial saw the telematics system as being “Big Brother”, with the vast majority agreeing that they now thought much more about the way in which they were driving.
Sussex Police collaborated with nine other forces on insurance, the chief constable said, and its driver training was among the best in the country.
Despite having the second largest fleet out of the nine forces, it made the joint second-lowest number of claims.
The crash figures did not include “tactical pursuit and containment” (TPAC) – a highly skilled technique deployed by police drivers to use their vehicles to box in another vehicle and bring it to a halt.
There have been 99 tactical pursuit and containment incidents since the start of the 2019-20 financial year, with one vehicle being written off at a cost of £23,000.
The chief constable said: “TPAC is a very effective tactic which we use to be able to bring an incident to a safe conclusion should we need to do so.
“I absolutely commend both the professionalism of the training but also the professionalism of those officers who are accredited as TPAC drivers because it is a skill that is earned and they have to work hard to pass that course.”