MORE than 200 people have been hurt in 1,000 crashes involving South Yorkshire Police cars in the past three years, The Star can reveal.
Almost £750,000 in compensation has been paid out by the police to people injured in collisions, or to owners of property damaged in the crashes.
The figures, released as part of The Star’s Your Right to Know campaign, show the number of crashes since April 2008 totalled 1,152.
The Star’s campaign aims to turn the spotlight on the hidden facts and figures which affect the everyday lives of readers across South Yorkshire.
And the numbers show 214 people have been injured, and just over £731,510 in compensation has been paid.
Four police officers have been ‘disciplined’ for motoring offences involving the collisions, and two investigations are currently under way.
South Yorkshire Police Authority chairman Neil Bowles said the number of collisions compared with the number of miles travelled by police cars every year meant, statistically, crashes were quite rare.
The force has a fleet of 750 vehicles - including response cars, high performance road policing vehicles, crime scene investigation vans, dog cars and vans to transport prisoners - which collectively cover 12 million miles a year.
In the space of one year, South Yorkshire Police received 73,911 calls graded as ‘immediate’ - meaning lights and sirens should be used for an officer to attend within 15 minutes of the call.
South Yorkshire’s Temporary Chief Constable, Bob Dyson, said: “Police drivers receive a high standard of training to respond quickly and safely to emergencies. But unfortunately accidents can happen due to the nature of an officer’s duty.”
He added: “South Yorkshire Police has an internal claims fund to compensate members of the public involved in collisions.”
But the Taxpayers’ Alliance, which campaigns for lower taxes, criticised the amount paid out in compensation settlements.
“Taxpayers can’t afford repeated repair bills for patrol cars that look more like rally cars,” said spokesman Robert Oxley.
“Policing is a job that will often mean driving fast with blue lights blazing, so some damage will happen in the line of duty now and then.
“However, drivers of police vehicles are often highly trained and should do all they can to keep the number and cost of prangs to a minimum.”
Between March last year and April 2010 there were 349 collisions involving South Yorkshire Police cars. The year before there were 401, and the year before that there were 402.
Police Federation chairman Mr Bowles said: “All police road traffic collisions are treated very seriously, let alone if some cause casualties, and all are investigated by a supervisory officer.
“All police drivers are highly trained, both initially and throughout their careers. I believe all police drivers take their duties and responsibilities extremely professionally.”