My last rant was about the iniquities of defence spending in this country, but of course, the Ministry of Justice are not the only department to have lost their marbles in the course of their trendy spending projects.
Perhaps the worthy Dominic Cummings should be asked to run a review of police spending as well. In their wish to appear politically correct and keep up with the twitterati, forces have spent millions of pounds on electric cars that they admit are useless for chasing suspects or rushing to help victims.
Forces around the country have bought at least four hundred and forty eight environmentally-friendly vehicles to help them meet green energy targets. But almost all of these cars and vans are being used in non-emergency situations or by chiefs to get to work.
Official police reports concede that electric vehicles cannot meet the demands of urgent response or pursuit driving. They take too long to charge up to be ready for 999 calls and could run out of battery before a shift ends. Now that might be embarrassing!
Figures from thirty of the country’s forty-six police forces show they have bought or leased four hundred and forty eight ‘green’ vehicles and have many more on order. Together they have spent at least one and a half million pounds, according to details obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. The true costs will be far higher as several forces refused to say how much they had spent.
Scotland Yard has a hundred and thirty four green vehicles and wants to make its entire fleet green by 2050, partly to avoid having to pay London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s daily £12.50 Ultra Low Emission Zone charge. The Met has bought dozens of ‘ultra-low emissions non-response cars’ from BMW, Mitsubishi and Toyota, but it then had to get more diesel vehicles for high-speed chases. An internal report admitted that ‘The market has not yet sufficiently matured to offer alternatively fuelled vehicles capable of meeting the requirements for the role of pursuit cars.’
A report by Staffordshire Police states: ‘Vehicles that are less damaging to the environment are struggling to cope with the arduous needs of emergency service; autonomous driving and safety systems are not conducive to pursuit or response driving.’ Jeepers, talk about officialese. When I was a cop, we were taught to keep our writing simple with as few words as possible!
Anyway, a number of forces have submitted long-winded excuses for their inept profligacy while Tim Rogers, spokesman on pursuits for the Police Federation said: ‘The public does not need to worry about police not being able to get to them because their cars have run out of battery.
‘It would be remiss of anyone managing a vehicle fleet to restrict themselves that way – they are still able to use other vehicles.’
We can only hope Mr Rogers is not also using a load of flannel.
I mentioned the twitterati and although I have never wanted to be on twitter, I think few of us whatever our politics, would deny that social media brings out the worst in people. We could all do with thinking a little more and tweeting a little less.
The last decade has been a low point for public debate, thanks not least to various activists’ or whatever they call themselves shouting and screaming in favour of their particular point of view. It baffles me that so many self-declared liberals are completely intolerant of difference and so reluctant to listen to contrary opinions. When the local candidate for the Libdems canvassed around Princetown – he was the only one who did mind you – I told his supporters that the party were no longer liberal or democratic. They immediately stopped trying to get me to meet the clown, thank God.
Indeed, earlier this year almost two-fifths of Brexit remainers told an opinion poll that they would seriously mind if their child married somebody who had voted Leave. So much, then, for their cosmopolitan open-mindedness! Yet surely democracy depends on competing opinions and we all learn far more from people who disagree with us than from those who reinforce what we already think.
So as we prepare to celebrate Christmas and bid farewell to the second decade of the century, I can only hope that we will leave behind the age of confected outrage, the culture of ‘calling out’ perceived offences and the hysterical obsession with political correctness. I am not holding my breath but as animals of the same species, we all have so much more in common than we think; we just need to recognise it, that’s all.
So here’s my Christmas wish for the next decade – a bit more freedom of speech, a bit more tolerance, a bit more perspective and a bit more humility. Is that really too much to ask?
Happy Christmas everyone. Don’t forget to leave a wee dram out for the tubby fellow coming down the chimney tonight.