Police officers waste £600,000 of taxpayers' cash putting wrong fuel in cars... despite talking fuel caps designed to warn them

Exclusive: Police officers have splashed out on warning signs and even talking fuel caps in an attempt to curb the errors

Careless police officers have wasted more than £600,000 of taxpayers' money in the past four years by filling up their patrol cars with the wrong type of fuel, The Independent has learnt.

The figures, revealed in a Freedom of Information request, relate to 37 out of the 40 police forces in England and Wales. Data from 15 of the forces was incomplete - meaning that the real cost of misfuelling is likely to amount to thousands more. The data shows that the cost of the errors since 2009 amounts to at least £600,614.

In the past, police forces have even spent money on "talking fuel caps" and warning signs in an attempt to curb the errors, but hundreds of officers are still pumping gallons of the wrong fuel into their tanks.

In 2008 Essex Police spent £4,000 on the caps, which play a recorded reminder not to use the wrong fuel every time the user fills up. But the warnings fell on deaf ears, with 150 diesel police cars being filled with petrol between 2008 and 2013, costing the force £32,726 - eight times the cost of the caps themselves.

A spokesperson for the force claimed that a year-on-year decrease in incidents meant that misfuelling had "ceased to be a matter of great concern", adding: "Over the years the force has made concerted efforts to reduce these instances of human error."

Seven years ago, North Wales Police started using bright yellow cap covers for its diesel cars - but that has not stopped officers racking up a £11,161 repair bill in the past four years alone. In November 2010, a single error cost Leicestershire police force £2,859 - enough to pay for 204 pairs of handcuffs.

Since 2009, the Metropolitan Police, which has a fleet of around 6,500 vehicles, has cost the taxpayer £288,151 in repair costs after police made 991 errors at the pump. A spokesperson said: "If a vehicle is unavailable then clearly that's not ideal, but we can work around it." They added that there was no "mandatory punishment" for officers who made such an error.

A spokesperson for Kent police, which racked up a £26,474 bill for repairs, said: "As measures by Kent Police to reduce misfuelling of vehicles have taken effect, the occasions of putting the wrong fuel in fleet vehicles has significantly reduced, with just 25 recorded instances in 2012 and only nine occasions so far in 2013."

In the last two years Staffordshire Police and Cheshire Constabulary spent £20,163 of taxpayers' money on repairing and recovering vehicles, after officers filled up 35 high-performance police cars, including a top-end BMW S30, with petrol instead of diesel.

Although pumping diesel into a petrol engine causes little damage, filling up a diesel engine with petrol can cost £5,000 per vehicle to repair. The cost is especially high if officers ignore their mistakes and drive off, circulating the incorrect fuel within the engine.

The RAC, which responds to nearly 40,000 callouts a year for misfuelling, criticised the police. "You would hope anyone driving a vehicle paid for by the tax payer would be extra careful," a spokesman said. He added that the figures "demonstrated how easy it is to use the wrong fuel in a vehicle".

According to the AA, at least 150,000 drivers fill up their cars with the wrong fuel every year. "Misfuelling seems to be associated particularly with the growth in diesel car sales. Modern diesels are so quiet it's easy to forget you're driving one, particularly if it's a second family car or hire car," a spokesman said.

Sport
Brazilian fans watch the match for third place between Brazil and Netherlands
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: Dutch pile on the misery in third place playoff
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?