‘Justify two million’ on undercover cop cars

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Police chiefs have been challenged to justify more than £2m which has been spent on undercover cars in the past three years.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show Lancashire Police was the second highest spending force in the country when it comes to unmarked vehicles - with top of the range Audi, BMW and Mercedes models among the cars bought to help officers fight crime.

But while Fylde coast council tax campaigner Derek Bunting has called on the force to justify its spending habits, motoring expert Terry Godbert has described the £2m as “money well spent”.

Mr Godbert, chairman of the Blackpool and Fylde branch of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “Two million pounds is a lot of money but the cars themselves have got to be very well equipped.

“The ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) systems are tremendously expensive.

“They’ve also got to have radar systems and accurate police speed systems as well, but the thing is if it keeps the wrongdoers off the road then I think it’s money well spent.”

Among the purchases made by Lancashire Police were a £36,000 Audi A6, a £31,000 Mercedes E Class and a £31,000 BMW X5.

But campaigner Mr Bunting, from Bispham, said: “I’ve always questioned the percentage that the police take off our council tax.

“I don’t know how they can justify spending that amount of money.”

Only West Midlands Police spent more than Lancashire over the same period of time, splashing out nearly £4.5m on undercover cars including a Jaguar XF4.

A spokesperson for Lancashire Police said: “Lancashire Constabulary operates a fleet of nearly 1,000 vehicles and a large percentage of these vehicles are unmarked but are used for operational policing.

“Unmarked vehicles are used by various departments including major crime, CID and road policing.

“The vehicles also include pool cars, and chief officer cars, in addition to those used for covert enforcement and surveillance.

“Many of these vehicles are plain vans and the vast majority of these vehicles are low performance and are used on a daily basis.”