A report into the transport fleet of North Yorkshire Police has identified a catalogue of mismanagement, leading to potential missing vehicles, huge repair bills and the purchase of an electric van the force could not use.
An independent audit by RSM revealed that there was a lack of verified data on the force’s ageing fleet, meaning that police vehicles could have gone missing without anyone realising.
There were instances where the wrong vehicle appeared to have been ordered, and one repair bill which cost £17,000 more than buying a brand new replacement vehicle.
Auditors RSM were commissioned to review North Yorkshire Police’s fleet management by the Chief Constable and the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner “due to a number of issues identified within the fleet capital budget arrangements”.
The concerns they outlined in their report included:
- a lack of a fleet management strategy or approved fleet management plan. This “could lead to inappropriate vehicles being purchased… impacting value for money”.
- no physical verification of the police cars and vans listed in documents. That means the force “may not identify any missing vehicles, should any discrepancies exist… This could have a range of implications, including the insurance of Force vehicles.”
- “limited” oversight of the police’s vehicle repair system. “It is therefore not clear whether the Force is achieving value for money in respect of repairs, maintenance, and equipment costs.”
- In one case, the police spent £38,614 on repairing just one vehicle. It would have cost £21,000 to buy a brand new version of the same vehicle.
- an electric cell van was ordered by the police and “currently sits in the Transport Hub at Thirsk as the Force does not currently have the infrastructure for electric vehicles”.
- 45 vehicles needed replacing in 2022/23 but these were not ordered because there was “minimal budget” left – but the chief financial officer was not informed. “This may result in an ageing fleet, meaning the Force cannot deliver operationally.”
- the ‘wrong’ models were sometimes ordered. In one case a BMW was listed but a different model delivered. In another case, documents said “cell vans would be replaced with Ford Transit vans; however, the orders had been placed for Peugeot vehicles instead.”
- used police vehicles being sold on at auction lacked a paper trail, which means “there is a risk that vehicle disposals are not processed correctly and the Force may not receive all monies due.”
The auditors identified a fleet replacement budget in 2022/23 of £1.4 million – but an overspend of another £1.4 million forecast.
Their report was presented to a meeting of the executive board that oversees North Yorkshire Police and measures have now been put in place to address the problems.
The full response from both the police and the crime commissioner is below.
What North Yorkshire Police say
A North Yorkshire Police spokesperson said: “We welcome the RSM report and accept the auditors recommendations.
“Since the findings of the report were delivered to the executive board, a number of measures have been put into place to improve the effective management and planning of the fleet.
“A new four-year fleet strategy has been developed and approved, which will put in place a framework to achieve improved availability of vehicles, more efficient usage of the fleet, better planning and usage of spare parts.
“To prepare for the government 2035 target the force has, as a pilot, utilised an ultralow emissions vehicle to support deliveries between the Transport and Logistics Hub and Headquarters where there are four charging points.
“A new telematics system has been proposed, which will provide comprehensive vehicle information that will be used to drive efficiency and effectiveness and will identify opportunities for operational cost improvement.
“Availability and lead times on vehicles has been a nationwide challenge and in some cases, to ensure the force has not been left without vehicles a functionally equivalent vehicle has had to be sought.
“Investment into our capability has taken place though, with the chief constable announcing last week that 63 new vans are being rolled out to our frontline, to support our officers in servicing calls from the public.
“While any capital spend requires approval from the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, a full governance procedure is in place to ensure procurement is compliant with public sector regulations and police force financial policies.
“Where possible we will work with national, regional or collaborate frameworks to drive cost savings and ensure best value.”
What the police commissioner says
A representative for the office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner said:
“RSM are commissioned to act as an independent internal auditor to review corporate governance topics within the force.
“Topics are selected by reference to risk and in consultation with the commissioner’s office. Internal audit bring their audit findings to the joint independent audit committee for further independent scrutiny; assisting the commissioner to hold the force to account in any areas raised during those audits.
“Where there is a need for ongoing scrutiny and review outside of joint independent audit committee, the commissioner will build those areas into her assurance plan.
“Prior to the most recent audit committee the findings of the fleet internal audit had already been considered at the executive board (the most senior joint decision making and scrutiny body for policing fire and crime in North Yorkshire).
“The auditors’ recommendations have been accepted and a range of actions taken to remedy the specific and general issues highlighted.”