Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Police car doors 'too small'

One of the PSNI's new fleet of Vauxhall Vectras, which are being examined after officers reported injuries

A safety review is to be carried out on a fleet of new PSNI cars after several officers claimed to have sustained neck and back injuries while travelling in the vehicles.

It is understood officers are having difficulty entering and exiting the recently acquired Vauxhall Vectra cars in their body armour because of the size of the vehicles' doors.

The PSNI's health and safety branch has been warned by officers that their movements within the cars are restricted and may prevent them from making an emergency escape from the vehicle.

After several officers reported neck and back injuries while struggling to get into and out of the cars in their body armour, some officers threatened to no longer travel in the vehicles.

Safety checks are expected to be carried out on the vehicles this week and a decision will be made on whether to remove them from the fleet.

One police officer told the Belfast Telegraph: "Officers are very concerned about these vehicles. It is extremely difficult to get in and out of these cars in body armour, which is very stiff. It is not just uncomfortable, it could be very dangerous. I don't know how easily we'd get out if there was an accident."

The officer added: "I'm surprised this wasn't checked out before the cars were purchased. Some officers are reluctant to travel in these cars, but no other cars are available."

The PSNI said that "a review is currently under way into issues concerning some fleet vehicles, which have been raised by officers".

The police service has more than 80 Vauxhall Vectras in its fleet of vehicles. It is not yet clear how many of these vehicles are subject to the health and safety review.

DUP MLA Jimmy Spratt said the safety of PSNI officers "is paramount and they must be able to get in and out of their vehicles quickly".

"I would be very surprised if this was not checked before the vehicles were purchased. If it wasn't, then I would like to know why. Surely the ease at which officers can get in and out of police vehicles should be an important issue when purchasing a new fleet," the former Policing Board member said.

He added: "I am very concerned to hear that some officers are suffering injuries getting into and out of these cars. This really shouldn't be the case and needs addressed immediately."

Factfile

  • The PSNI has approximately 1,600 cars in its fleet of 2,700 vehicles. Around 80 of these cars are Vauxhall Vectras and are used by response and neighbourhood policing teams.
  • Other vehicles used by officers include Skoda's Octavia and Superb, Vauxhall Astra estate, Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Passat estate, and Audi's A6 and A4.
  • The PSNI also has a fleet of Honda and BMW motorbikes, plus 242 bicycles.

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