Police Call For Backup to Tackle Flat Tyre
We trust the police to keep us safe and hardly raise an eyebrow when they put their lives on the line, but when a flat tyre threatens it seems the long arm of the law must remain at arm’s length. After finding the left side front tyre flaccid while parked on a stretch of double yellow line road in Surbiton, two police officers were obliged to ignore the weighty metal jack and firm spare wheel lying a tantalising few feet away in the patrol vehicle’s boot and instead wait two hours until a breakdown van arrived.
The sight of a pair of highly trained police officers lingering helplessly near their slightly disabled vehicle may be enough to bring tears of laughter to even the most law abiding citizen’s eyes, but culpability in this crime against tyre changing does not lie with the men and women that make up the Thin Blue Line; rather, the terms and conditions of a ten-year contract signed between the Metropolitan Police and VT Critical Services in April 2006 forbids police officers from changing tyres on any of the 3,600 vehicles in the force’s fleet, regardless of the circumstance.
Peter Smyth, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, described this particular restriction as “ridiculous” and defended the two officers’ inaction by stating they have been told they must not change their own tyres. “To me it isn’t logical,” Smyth related. “If there’s a spare tyre in the vehicle and there’s a jack, you don’t need to be a mechanic to change the tyre.”
In response to accusations of excessive red tape and wasted police time, a Metropolitan Police spokesman stated: “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.”