THE number of crashes during police pursuits in the Lothians has soared in the last year, according to figures revealed today.
Official statistics reveal 52 crashes have occurred during 999 call-outs – an increase on previous years, where the average number of accidents has been around 35.
A breakdown of the figures shows that 11 crashes happened during chases in the previous 12 months compared to a handful in previous years.
There were also 13 occasions where a police vehicle had hit a motorist, and nine where officers had crashed into a stationary object. There were 14 collisions where blame could not be apportioned to police officers.
The figures, released to the Evening News under Freedom of Information laws, also show that this year more police officers were injured in collisions than any time in the last five years.
Ten police officers were hurt in accidents and four police vehicles had to be written off from a total of 226 crashes in 2010-11.
Councillor Iain Whyte, convener of Lothian and Borders Police Board, said the unpredictable nature of police work meant collisions were sometimes unavoidable.
“Everything the police can do to reduce the number of accidents and keep their officers and the public safe is to everyone’s benefit,” he said. “In these times of financial concerns, it’s helpful to be aware of data like this. The very nature of road policing will mean that officers are in difficult and dangerous situations at times, and there always be a certain number of accidents given the number of miles they drive and in the nature of the driving they sometimes have to do.” He added: “It’s something the board regularly raises with the chief constable, and we get reports on risk assessment and claims.
“It will be something the board will look at when it meets again, and we will take a strong interest.”
Councillors Charles Dundas, a Lib Dem representative on the Lothian and Borders Police Board, said the new figures raised concerns that would be discussed with the chief constable.
“The police have some of the best drivers on the road and have to go through special training,” he said.
“But any increase in the number of accidents involving police cars is a concern, and we will certainly take these concerns to the police board and follow that up with the chief constable to investigate the reason why this appears to be the case.”