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Fifteen hundred force vehicles are more than 10 years old

There is widespread regional variation with 14% of Avon and Somerset’s fleet at least a decade old, while just 1% of Surrey’s cars are 10 years old.

Police forces operate more than 1,500 cars which are over 10 years old according to figures provided by more than half the forces in the UK.

Freedom of Information Act requests revealed that five forces have cars that are more than 20 years old, with one vehicle dating back to 1986.

The figures, from 28 police forces in England, Wales and Scotland were obtained by the Liberal Democrats.

Analysis showed West Yorkshire has the 36-year-old car, one of five forces with vehicles dating back 20 years or more – the others were Avon and Somerset, Suffolk, Police Scotland and Hertfordshire.

In a sign of regional variations, 14% of Avon and Somerset’s fleet is at least a decade old, while just 1% of Surrey’s cars are 10 years old.

The latest funding settlement will see police in England and Wales in line for a below-inflation increase in resources.

Under the provisional settlement, the Home Office said forces will receive an additional £287 million in cash terms from central government in 2023-24.

It will take overall spending to £17.2 billion – a 3.6% cash increase on the current year, well below the rate of inflation, which remains above 10% although it is forecast to fall.

The Lib Dem's home affairs spokesman, Alistair Carmichael, said: “People would be shocked to learn that the police still own a vehicle from 1986.

“When the car was first registered, Lionel Messi hadn’t been born, the Pet Shop Boys were topping the charts, and Google was still a decade away from invention. How can a car past its prime be reliable in an emergency?”

The figures do not show what policing tasks the oldest vehicles are used for.

Mr Carmichael said: “Of course the police need to maximise their resources, but their fleets are not the place to cut corners.

“To ensure crucial parts of their jobs, like high-speed chases, are safe, the police should be using modern, fit-for-purpose vehicles, not cars older than the people driving them.

“Our police forces do a fantastic job 24/7, especially around the festive season, keeping our communities and families safe.

“But this Conservative Government has run their budgets into the ground, squeezing them on from every angle and making it harder to do their jobs effectively.

“Police must have their budgets restored and the Government must ensure each force has access to equipment that is state of the art and can function exactly as required in an emergency.”

The Home Office defended the funding available for policing.

A spokesman said: "Overall police funding available to PCCs if they take up the full precept flexibility will increase by up to £523 million next year.

“It is for individual police forces to make decisions on how they use funding, which includes police vehicle acquisition.

“We continue to back our police, including by recruiting 15,343 additional officers and putting in place the police covenant to support officers, staff, volunteers and their families.”

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