The chief constable of South Yorkshire Police has attacked the Liberal Democrats over criticism of how much forces spend on hire cars.

The party’s home affairs spokesman, Chris Huhne, uncovered figures showing more than £132m had been spent on car hire in the last five years. Police chief, Meredydd Hughes, said it was “more cost effective” to hire cars. He accused the Liberal Democrats of “wasting everyone’s time trying to get publicity for their party”.

This is a story that isn’t a story,” he said.

“South Yorkshire Police is proud of the way it uses the public’s resources.”

The MP’s findings, which are the result of freedom of information requests to all the UK’s police forces, found that the Metropolitan Police force spent the most on car hire – more than £48m. South Yorkshire Police was found to have spent just over £2.5m. Mr Hughes said: “We hire cars to transport officers investigating major incidents such as murder inquiries, terrorist incidents and other major crimes.

Chris Huhne called the figures ‘unnecessarily lavish’

“We also hire specialist vehicles in very bad weather, for example where there are problems like flooding. “This is much more cost effective than owning the cars full time.”

His comments came after Mr Huhne described the amounts as “unnecessarily lavish” at a time “when police budgets are under extreme pressure”. “Hiring cars at appropriate times can save forces money, but if they are being hired while police cars are not in use, it is simply a waste of taxpayers’ money,” he said.

In a statement Mr Hughes said: “The Liberal Democrats would do better to come and ask South Yorkshire Police how we are spending the money rather than wasting everyone’s time trying to get publicity for their party.

Personally I’m of the opinion that the Police in this situation should be able to make the decisions as to how they spend there budget. If this means that they need to rent vehicles to ensure that the job is completed correctly and efficiently then so be it. I would much rather public groups put money back into the economy by using car hire/van rental firms as opposed to spending grossly on a vehicle which might only be used sporadically.

It seems that the Liberal Democrats are thinking only from a PR perspective, trying to make it look like they would try and cut down on public spending at the cost of efficiency. The Police need to be allowed to carry on with the hard decent job that they currently do.

Article Source BBC 1st January – Here