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Careless police drivers caused 200 accidents

By Adrian Rutherford

PSNI officers at the wheel of police cars were responsible for more than 200 road accidents in the last two years — many them due to basic driving errors, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

The PSNI admitted liability in 85 crashes in the last year alone, leaving the service facing a hefty bill for repair work.

While some accidents occurred as officers were rushing to emergency calls, others were down to careless errors.

In one case an officer forgot to apply the handbrake. The vehicle rolled back, colliding with a civilian’s car.

Details of accidents where the PSNI accepted liability were obtained by this newspaper under Freedom of Information.

During 2007/08, officers accepted fault in 121 collisions which caused £158,881 worth of damage to PSNI vehicles.

In the following 12 months, officers were deemed responsible for 85 accidents, leaving police facing a £62,494 repair bill.

More bizarre accidents included a police vehicle which slid across the road, mounted a grass verge and hit a DoE sign before coming to rest on top of a hedge, causing £7,650 worth of damage.

Another £6,901 repair bill was caused when a vehicle lost control on a bend, locked into a backward skid and smashed into a bus shelter.

In another case a thief stole a police car and, while he was driving it, collided with the wing mirror of another vehicle.

One person claimed a police vehicle ran over her foot after flagging it down for assistance.

The highest single repair bill was £28,950, caused when the police driver lost control of the vehicle and it crashed through a fence and into a field, flipping over on to its roof.

Costs relate only to repairs to police vehicles. The PSNI was unable to specify how much money was paid out in compensation. Police were also unable to answer our query about how many officers were disciplined or faced prosecution.

Policing Board member Jimmy Spratt has called on the PSNI to provide more answers.

The PSNI declined to comment on the figures when contacted.

The squad car smashes and what police paid to fix them

The police driver was approaching a tight bend and lost control of the vehicle. The driver tried to counter-steer, but their vehicle flipped and collided with a tree.

Police repair bill: £3,050

A police vehicle was dropping off exhibits. As the driver |manoeuvred, the rear door (which had not been properly |secured) swung open and hit a parked car.

Police repair bill: None

Police and civilian vehicles were travelling around a roundabout. Both vehicles were level at the exit, and it is alleged the police driver indicated left and collided with the civilian vehicle.

Police repair bill: £784

The handbrake of the police |vehicle was apparently not properly engaged. The police vehicle rolled and collided with a civilian vehicle.

Police repair bill: £1,005

Whilst reversing, the police driver struck a gate post and wall, partially knocking down the wall.

Police |repair bill: £610

The police driver swerved to avoid hitting an animal on the |road, and collided with a temporary bus shelter.

Police repair bill: £3,440

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