Cash-strapped police chiefs spend £200k on armoured bulletproof military truck left unused

Cash-strapped Police Scotland has a £200,000 crime-fighting battle tank that’s never been used and only a handful of officers are able to drive.

The force splashed out on the bulletproof armoured military vehicle Sandcat ahead of Cop26 but it’s been gathering dust in a police warehouse, the Sunday Mail understands.

Favoured by Mexican and Colombian cops tackling drug cartels and by Israeli Defence Forces on the West Bank, it is designed for warzones.

Police chiefs have been urged to explain why they bought the gas-guzzling 4x4 and have kept hold of it despite struggling to fund extra cops or upgrade their ageing kit and fleet.

The Scottish Greens said police chiefs must now sell the “monstrosity” and use the money elsewhere.

Spokeswoman Maggie Chapman said: “This is a frankly ludicrous waste of money. These vehicles are built for warzones, not Wishaw.”

The Sandcat has a huge 6.7L V8 engine but only does around nine mpg – about as fuel-efficient as an F1 racing car.

It was bought ahead of the 2021 global climate conference in Glasgow but has never been used on active operations.It’s locked up at the same in Lanarkshire that a campervan, seized as part of the fraud investigation into SNP finances, is being stored.

Sources told the Sunday Mail the Sandcat, produced by Israeli firm Plasan, was a “vanity purchase”, with firearms officers desperate to get a “shiny new toy to play with”.

One source said: “Cop26 was the excuse to buy it. Firearms and counter terrorism officers wanted to pretend they were in MI5 or something.

“For a force which is skint it’s an incomplete disgrace to have a £200,000 vehicle just sitting there losing value, when we’re struggling to have enough officers on the streets.

“I’d be surprised if any officers are able to drive it now because any training they would have has probably lapsed.”

David Threadgold
A Plasan SandCat was been bought by Police Scotland in 2021.

Police Scotland insisted there are officers who could deploy the machine if it was needed for a major incident but refused to say how many were trained on its operation.

Chapman said: “It’s hard to imagine a situation where it would be of use in Scotland. Since it’s been sitting unused for years, the police clearly agree. They should sell this monstrosity immediately and put the money back into frontline services people rely on.”

David Threadgold, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation which represents rank and file officers, said the force had to justify why it is keeping the vehicle.

He said: “At a time when it is no exaggeration to say that every penny counts, Police Scotland must consider if it can operationally justify the retention and ‘non use’ of such a piece of equipment. To my knowledge this vehicle has never been deployed operationally since Police Scotland has had it.

“The cost of specialist training and equipment to crew it would be significant and would have to be justified to the public.

“If Police Scotland have not, and will not, consider using it at a time when officers struggle to source appropriate uniform and working conditions are, in some cases, unfit for human habitation real consideration should be given to selling this vehicle. That money could be used to make day-to-day conditions of frontline officers more acceptable.”

Last year it was reported the force had around 100 vehicles with more than 100,000 miles on the clock and that were at least 10 years old. The oldest fleet car was registered in 1989.

When current Chief Constable Jo Farrell took over seven months ago she called on the Scottish Government to invest £128m in policing and said: “Without funding over and above flat cash, we will be unable to recruit police officers in 2024-25.”

Police Scotland said: “The specialist vehicle improves our options to keep people safe. While it has not yet been deployed to a major incident it has been used for training purposes.”

Don't miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond - Sign up to our daily newsletter here.