Electric cars are to be used on the streets of Sussex and Surrey to see how effective they could be in policing.
Two Nissan LEAF cars and a Nissan e-NV200 van are to be used by neighbourhood policing officers on duty in Hastings in Sussex. The same number will be used in Addlestone in Surrey.
The 100% electric cars will be decked out in the force livery and will look similar to other vehicles in the fleet. They will be used by neighbourhood officers and PCSOs going out and about around their area on inquiries but will not be used to respond to emergencies or in pursuits.
Nissan has loaned the vehicles to the forces for a three-month trial. The vehicles will be evaluated by officers and staff to see how useful and effective they could be in policing as well as how much cheaper they could be to run than petrol or diesel-engined vehicles.
Members of the public will also be asked what they think about the use of the vehicles.
Dennis Ord, the head of transport for Surrey and Sussex Police, said: “We have been loaned electric or hybrid vehicles in the past but this is the longest trial of them that we have ever been involved with.
“It will allow us to find out just how useful they could be. They are quieter than normal vehicles and are described as more environmentally friendly. What we need to evaluate from a fleet perspective is how cost effective they are and by how much they would reduce our CO2 emissions, whilst maintaining our service to the public.
“Over the coming years parts of our fleet will need to be replaced and it could be that vehicles such as this could form an important part of our day-to-day activities.”
The drive towards a greener fleet is something that has been personally championed by Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne.
She said: “I am pleased to see Sussex Police taking this innovative step towards cutting its carbon footprint by trialling a more energy-efficient fleet of vehicles.
“As PCC, I intend to explore every opportunity to deliver effective policing whilst reducing costs to local taxpayers. Using electric cars for certain kinds of police work should not only help to save money but will also be better for the environment.
“Sussex Police has also recently trialled the use of a hybrid vehicle and, alongside the results of the electric cars, these findings will be evaluated in order to advise considerations on future fleet investment.”
The vehicles can be driven for more than 100 miles between charges which means they could be useful on day-to-day policing activities, such as being used by officers visiting victims or witnesses to take statements, as part of door-to-door inquiries or by crews on short patrols.
Nissan GB Fleet Public Sector Specialist Ben Grocott said: “We’re very keen to work in partnership with police forces as they try to find innovative ways to cut the running costs and carbon emissions of their fleets.
“Both of our vehicles offer significant whole-life savings and environmental benefits and we believe they can fulfil a key role in 21st Century policing.”