THE equivalent of one police car breaks down almost every day while on patrol in Scotland, new figures have revealed.

Last year, 349 police cars broke down whilst patrolling Scotland’s streets – an increase of 100 on the year before.

The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) said the condition of the fleet is so disgraceful a van caught fire in recent weeks and “breakdowns are commonplace”.

Scottish Labour, which obtained the latest figures, said it came after the force insisted it is spending less than a third of what is required to maintain vehicles due to a lack of funding.

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The party’s justice spokesman Daniel Johnson MSP said: “Police Scotland is getting nowhere near the level of funding it needs to maintain a modern fleet.

“You can’t keep communities safe on the cheap, and in government Labour will give our police the resources they need to look for criminals, not the nearest mechanic.”

Calum Steele, general secretary of the SPF, which represents rank and file officers, insisted “the only thing that is surprising in these official figures is that they are so low”.

He said: “The condition of much of the police vehicle fleet is nothing short of a disgrace, breakdowns are commonplace and officers routinely highlight that more vehicles are off the road than on it.

“In the past few weeks we have seen a police van catch fire; another needed a continual hand on the gearstick to ensure it didn’t jump out of gear whilst in motion, and both were incapable of keeping the rain out.

“This is a matter that ought to embarrass both the Government and the Scottish Police Authority.

“The derisory capital funding for the police service gives little hope things will improve anytime soon.

“We risk a farcical reality that those charged with keeping unsafe vehicles off our roads, will be increasingly asked to do so from vehicles which are barely road legal in themselves.”

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Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said the force had more than 96 per cent of its fleet on the road.

He said: “Police Scotland requires significant capital funding to address historic under investment in policing.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said it was protecting the police resource budget in real terms “in every year of the current Parliament, delivering a boost of £100 million by 2021”.