Top cops in West Yorkshire are driving a fleet of flash cars – as the force struggles to save £96m.
More than £286,000 has been spent on top-of-the range models for the six members of the West Yorkshire Police command team and its counter-terrorism chief – at an average of over £40,000 per car.
The motors include a luxury Jaguar XF, two BMW X5s, a BMW 535, two Audis and a Lexus 450H.
The news, which comes as the force seeks to slash £96m from its budget and cut up to 2,000 jobs by 2015, has been met with outrage from frontline police.
John Christopher, vice-chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said: “In these austere times, when people have lost their jobs and the force is having to make 20 per cent savings across the board, £280,000 is a serious amount of money that could have been put to more productive use.
He said the £40,000 cost of each car would be enough to put two new recruits on the streets for a year.
However, the police authority stresses that the cost of the cars amounts to 0.08 per cent of the force’s total budgets.
The details emerged following a request by the YEP under the Freedom of Information Act.
They reveal that Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison is among those to receive a car for personal and professional use. In 2010, he caused surprise by saying his annual earnings of £213,000 were excessive. The following year he earned more than £226,000.
The deputy chief constable, three permanent assistant chief constables, the assistant chief officer and the head of the counter-terrorism unit – who all earn more than £100,000 a year – also get the perk.
The force is currently looking to appoint a fourth assistant chief constable, who would also be entitled to a prestige car.
All the vehicles are replaced after three years or 60,000 miles and include a factory-fitted sat-nav and tracking device.
Senior officers may select a more expensive model but have to cover the additional cost, West Yorkshire Police said.
Robert Oxley, campaign manager for the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “These vehicles aren’t going to be used to keep the public safe or for combating crime but are a perk for already well-paid officers.
“With budgets tight West Yorkshire should axe this motor pool in a bid to save money.”
A Police Authority spokeswoman said: “The Police Authority provides a car scheme for its senior officer team as part of an overall package designed to attract and retain high calibre candidates. This was last reviewed by the Senior Appointments Committee during 2011 and account was taken of guidance and comparable packages elsewhere in the police service. The cost represents 0.08 per cent of the total budget and the vehicles remain part of the overall fleet.”