A FLEET of 75 new electric vehicles bought by Police Scotland has been kept in storage for around eight months but the force has denied that a lack of charging stations has stopped them from being deployed.

The news follows reports in August that police stations across Scotland were being given electric vehicles (EVs) despite having no charging points.

Police Scotland awarded two contracts worth more than £25 million in 2020 for a fleet of ultra-low emission vehicles and charging stations to help achieve its aim to be the first “green” emergency service in the UK.

However, last summer, the LibDems said their research had found the number of available charging points at stations had not kept pace with the number of vehicles bought.

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A Freedom of Information request showed 23 police stations had no charging points and the party claimed a police officer had told them that one station had been given five EVs but no charging point. Instead, according to the LibDems, the officers had tried to charge the EVs via a cable through an office window but that had proved too much for the domestic three-point socket.

Old diesel cars were used instead, with the EVs left at council car parks overnight “in the hope no damage would come to them”.

At the time, Police Scotland said no EVs were issued to areas that could not operate them using a combination of their own charging network and the public and partnership network.

Now, the Sunday National has found that 75 Police Scotland EVs are still in storage.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said this was not due to a lack of charging points but because it was not possible to get “just in time” deliveries any more.

“Modernising our fleet is an integral part of our Fleet Strategy as we aim to be a more efficient, effective and sustainable 21st-century police service,” said the spokesperson.

“We are currently rolling out EV charging infrastructure to all sites that our electric vehicles operate from. Whilst this work is ongoing, we have ensured that none of our electric vehicles are used for urgent call roles, and are utilised for general purpose or non-response roles.

“Our strategy is to utilise our own network as well as the public and partnership network and therefore we do not issue electric vehicles to areas that cannot operate using a combination of these.”

The spokesperson added: “There are 75 currently in the commissioning process and on average, they have been in storage for around eight months but will be operational by the end of March.

“This is just down to the process of getting vehicles in larger numbers – it is not possible to get just-in-time deliveries anymore.”

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The two contracts awarded by Police Scotland in 2020 were to allow BP Chargemaster to supply and install hundreds of electric vehicle charging posts (EVCPs) and the purchase of around 180 Hyundai Kona 64kWh cars.

Under the first phase, over 400 charging points were to be installed at over 50 police sites across Scotland but by last May only 130 were reportedly in place and operational at 26 stations, including at Kilmarnock, Ayr, Edinburgh, Dumfries, Dunblane, Glasgow and Hawick.

A Sunday National request for the number still to be installed was declined by Police Scotland. BP Chargemaster did not respond to a request for comment.

The force also said it could not provide the cost of holding the EVs in storage until they could be deployed.

Meanwhile, there are doubts over whether Scotland’s existing public charging infrastructure is able to cope with the number of EVs now on the road.

The latest figures showed that there are more than 38,000 ultra-low emission vehicles but only 1,856 public chargers – one for every 20.8 vehicles.

A report last year found that one in four charging points was failing to work properly, with the majority owned by local authorities. The Scottish Borders had the worst-performing units with every single charger logging a fault. West Lothian, Highland and East Dunbartonshire councils also had problems with more than 94% of their machines.

Across more rural areas of the country, poor digital connectivity was also reported. Many charge points require an app download or use a process via a web page to pay for charging. A poor signal may also leave users unable to access support if there is a problem during their charging session.