Kirkintilloch officers fall ill in police car pollution fear

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Two police officers in Kirkintilloch were left with “excruciating headaches” and feeling nauseous after being exposed to suspected exhaust fumes in their marked vehicle.

The Mitsubishi Outlander was being used by police staff on Friday April 12 when the occupants began to feel unwell.

The incident was immediately reported to Police Scotland’s Fleet Services who took the vehicle off the road to allow for it to be examined.

The officers reported smelling what they believed to be exhaust fumes within the passenger cabin before their symptoms kicked in.

It follows two incidents in Aberdeen and Galashiels where cars of the same make and model reportedly suffered the same issue.

Brian Jones, Assistant to the General Secretary at the Scottish Police Federation, and who deals with health and safety, said: “There have been concerns raised before that this brand of vehicle but nothing was definitively found.

“However, the officers who were driving that vehicle last weekend had significant issues.

“It made them feel sick and they suffered excruciating headaches. The decision was taken to take that vehicle off the road and the Fleet Manager was contacted straight away.

“It’s quite difficult to say what’s actually causing the fumes to come from the engine compartment into the seating compartment.

“They haven’t been able to identify this irrespective of a number of vehicles being off road already or previously.

“From the smell, they’re assuming it’s exhaust fumes. It may not be. It may be something from the coolant system. We don’t know so we can only go with what they believe it is.

“They’ve had exactly the same issues in Aberdeen and in the Scottish Borders with the same type of vehicle.

“We’re kind of prodding about in the dark. We can only report what the officers tell us. On this occasion, Police Scotland acted very quickly.

“By the Saturday morning, the vehicle had been taken off the road to ensure that no other officers could be exposed to any risk whatsoever.”

He added that the Mitsubishi Outlander’s, which are used for general patrol and response, were being replaced by Police Scotland due to their age.

The latest incident follows the revelation that the equivalent of one police car breaks down almost every day while on patrol in Scotland.

New figures released this week showed that 349 cars suffered a fault last year - an increase of 100 on the year before.

Deputy Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said: “Police Scotland has a fleet of more than 3,500 vehicles covering around 70 million miles each year.

“Two of the vehicles in question had faulty components, one has been taken off the road, the other has been repaired.

“The third car was found to have no fault, however this is due to be replaced in the next two weeks.

“All remaining Mitsubishi Outlanders are being checked as a precaution.

“More than 80% of these vehicles are due for replacement in the next few months, with the remaining cars being of lower mileage.”