Police Spend £1.5M On Electric Cars Too Slow To Catch Criminals

by : Lucy Connolly on : 24 Dec 2019 15:16
Police Spend £1.5 million On Electric Cars Too Slow To Catch CriminalsPolice Spend £1.5 million On Electric Cars Too Slow To Catch CriminalsMetropolitan Police Service/Steven Straiton/Flickr

Police in the UK have spent at least £1.49 million on 448 ‘green’ vehicles in a bid to meet emission targets, but none of them can be used to catch criminals.


Official police reports say it takes too long to charge the batteries to be ready for a high-speed chase at short notice, and say there is too much risk of the vehicles running out of battery before the end of a shift.

As a result, the cars are currently only being used for non-emergencies and for bosses to travel to work – a far cry from what they were intended to be used for.

BMW i3 zero emission vehicles BMW i3 zero emission vehicles Steven Straiton/Flickr

According to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, 30 of the UK’s 46 police forces bought or leased the 448 green vehicles, with Devon and Cornwall Police spending £80,000 on four green vehicles used as pool cars.


Several authorities refused to reveal how much they spent, meaning the collective figure is likely to be well over the £1.49 million mark.

Tory backbencher and former special constable David Davies wasn’t impressed by the findings, saying, as per Metro: ‘Police bosses need to show a bit of common sense. I’ve been in a police car on so many occasions when an emergency call has come in.’

He continued:

You can’t predict what is going to happen and so they need to be very careful when using electric cars.

Official reports from a number of forces, including Kent Police and Staffordshire Police, admitted electric vehicles take too long to charge and aren’t kitted out for the ‘operational requirements’ of a chase.

The 2018 versions of the BMW i3, bought by many forces, has a maximum speed of 124mph. Thames Valley Police said ‘day running lights’ on many of the vehicles could cause problems in surveillance operations.

The Metropolitan Police, which currently has 134 eco-friendly vehicles, wants to make its whole force green by 2050 – the time when the British government aims to make the whole UK carbon neutral by.


But for now, the force has had to buy more diesel vehicles to deal with high speed chases, admitting the electric car market has ‘not sufficiently matured’ to meet their demands.

green police cars too slow to catch criminals 1green police cars too slow to catch criminals 1Metropolitan Police Service

Police Federation spokesperson Tim Rogers said the public ‘does not need to worry’ about officers not being able to reach them because their cars ran out of battery, saying it would be ‘remiss’ of anyone managing a vehicle fleet to ‘restrict themselves that way’.

He added: ‘They are still able to use other vehicles.’

That might be the case, but you have to wonder how our police forces are planning on meeting their emission targets when at the moment they seem to be using double the number of cars.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: News, Crime, criminals, Freedom of Information, Police, UK


  1. Metro

    Police spend £1,500,000 on electric cars that are too slow to catch criminals