Thursday, January 13, 2011

Essex bobbies

Essex taxpayers had to spend £62,000 fixing vehicles after police officers had mistakenly put petrol in diesel cars - even those with "talking" fuel caps warning them not to. Officers used the wrong fuel 332 times in the past seven years and, despite yellow fuel caps and a warning system on each car at a total cost of £4,000, diesel police cars were wrongly filled with petrol 110 times in the following two years.

And they let these people out on their streets ... alone? Er ... actually they don't – they always go in pairs. But now we know why. One drives the car and the other tells him (or her) what fuel to put in. Even then, they can't get it right.

Possibly though, that is being a little unfair. What we have here is the typical problem of there being no penalty for failure (or, in this case, stupidity). If officers had to pay for their errors out of their own pockets (as indeed ordinary people and the self-employed have to do), then I doubt very much whether we would have seen 332 incidents - in one police force alone. Having to pay for one's own stupidity is the surest path to wisdom.