POLICE in Staffordshire crashed their vehicles 48 times in a year - in their own car parks.
Of the 487 insurance claims made by officers in 2011/12, 45 involved them crashing into the back of a car.
Former Staffordshire Police driving instructor Nigel Bowers said: “Years and years ago, if you so much as got a scratch on a police car you would be banned from driving for a week.
“I think standards have dropped and it’s not just in Staffordshire, it’s across the whole country.” But former Staffordshire Police Inspector Nigel Gunn said: “If you look at the parking facilities at the new police headquarters in Stafford, then look at police stations like Hanley, Burslem or Newcastle - they were never built for significant numbers of cars.
“There’s very limited space and a lot of vehicles trying to cram into that space.
Most police stations are in town centres and surrounded by double yellow lines so there is nowhere else to put them.
“Police stations are not very well lit and it is more difficult at night. You also get tired people coming off long shifts.” Staffordshire Police director of resources, Graham Liddiard, said: “Occasionally, accidents do occur when officers are driving police vehicles, but these thankfully are usually minor.
“Our vehicles are involved in a wide variety of situations and are used around the clock doing thousands of miles per year.
“Our officers undergo regular training and assessments. Every accident is fully investigated and action taken where necessary.” One casualty was rescued from the crash and taken to hospital for treatment.
The second incident, just after 7am on Foregate Street in Stafford involved a single car with a female casualty who needed to be freed from the crashed vehicle before being taken to Stafford hospital.
The third call came at 7.23am and saw crews from Wombourne, Kinver and Stafford attend a collision between a car and an HGV on the A449 in Himley.
Firefighters had to use specialist cutting equipment to free one male casualty who was severely trapped inside the car before being taken to hospital by air ambulance.