More police car crashes occur in the Bradford South area than in any other policing division in West Yorkshire, the Telegraph & Argus can exclusively reveal today.
Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that 131 police cars were involved in collisions in Bradford South from the start of the current financial year in April 2010 up to December 31, 2010 – 27 more than the next-highest division.
In the previous financial year, 2009/10, Bradford South again topped the West Yorkshire list with 164 police cars involved in collisions. Airedale and North Bradford came a close second with 163.
Leeds North West Police, a division that includes Pudsey, Tyersal, Otley and Leeds Bradford Airport, had 148 police-car collisions in 2009/10 and a further 94 in the current financial year up to December 31, 2010.
The figures include anything from the most serious crashes down to windscreen damage.
They include ‘found damage’ as well as criminal damage to police cars, and blameworthy and non-blameworthy collisions are also included in the figures.
Chief Superintendent Alison Rose, Divisional Commander for Bradford South Police, said the division was one of the busiest in the force. She said highly-trained police drivers often had to make “split-second decisions” while on the road.
She said: “West Yorkshire Police takes many steps to avoid collisions involving police vehicles but there are many ways in which damage to them can occur. Examples include malicious damage and accidents which are the fault of other motorists and beyond the control of the police driver.
“Police drivers across the force are regularly confronted with dangerous situations to which they often have to make split-second decisions.
“They are highly trained and receive regular updates to hone their skills. This is no different in the Bradford South division where officers are as highly trained as in other divisions.
“All damage to police vehicles is regrettable but the Bradford South division is one of the busiest divisions in the force.
“Some accidents do happen that are the fault of the driver and each of these cases is reviewed to see what lessons can be learned.”
Superintendent Gary Baker, head of operations at Airedale and North Bradford Police, said collisions were inevitable, including those caused by other drivers who did not respond to sirens and blue lights.
Figures for the division from April 1 to December 31, 2010, show that the number of damaged police vehicles had fallen to 87.
Supt Baker said: “We have put better training in place for our officers over the last year and have also raised awareness of road safety issues to reduce incidents of careless collisions.
“Overall, we have found local drivers in Keighley and Bradford to be considerate and we are grateful for their patience and understanding.”
Andrew Tempest-Mitchell, West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman, said: “All police officers understand their responsibilities when driving vehicles, to obey the law and ensure they drive with the utmost care. But police work unfortunately on some occasions requires some emergency-type driving and unfortunately some mistakes will happen.
“But these figures cover a whole range of events which are not necessarily the fault of police officers and which can be attributed to failings of other drivers and acts of criminality.”