London, Nov 4 (ANI): Brit police officers have been ordered not to change the tyres on their patrol cars if they get a flat - due to health and safety fears.
Scotland Yard bosses are instead spending tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money hiring experts to do it for them, with the Metropolitan Police awarding a lucrative contract to a firm to provide 24-hour coverage to maintain its fleet of vehicles. And its remit includes repairing punctures.
Campaigners complained the move was a "scandalous waste of money and resources".
The bizarre policy came to light after two officers were spotted sitting in their patrol car after it suffered a flat tyre in Surbiton, South London, on November 2.
The vehicle was parked on double yellow lines as the PCs waited for two hours to be rescued.
The officers were told that even though there was a spare wheel and jack in the boot they were not allowed to change the punctured front near-side tyre because it was contrary to "police procedure".
They eventually continued their duties after patrolmen arrived from the private firm VT Critical Services.
Peter Smyth, who represents rank-and-file officers, and is chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, condemned the policy as "ridiculous", and said that it was a complete waste of police time.
"It isn't logical. If there's a spare wheel in the vehicle and there's a jack, you don't need to be a mechanic to change the wheel," the Daily Express quoted him as saying.
"They have to stay with their vehicle and so they're not being very productive.
"That vehicle's out of commission and the officers in the vehicle are out of commission for an hour or two. That's not the best use of resources.
"I'd like to see some common sense. I can understand it if the vehicle was a big three-ton prison wagon - there might be some complications," he added.
VT has been awarded a 10-year contract to provide maintenance and repairs for the Met's 3,600 vehicles.
"Police vehicles are maintained to very high standards as they are subject to continual and demanding use 24/7. For these reasons tyres are changed by specialist contractors," a Metropolitan Police spokesman said.
But Stuart Middleton, the Met's director of transport services, approves of the move.
"Outsourcing much of the Met's vehicle repair and maintenance to VT provides good value," he said.
"They quite literally keep the service moving," he added. (ANI)