SCOTTISH police officers wasted more than £2,000 of taxpayers’ money last year after filling their patrol vehicles with the wrong fuel.

They got it wrong at the fuel pump 16 times, leaving vehicles having to be taken off the road for costly repairs.

Across the UK, officers mistakenly filled up with the wrong fuel nearly 300 times in 2017, costing the taxpayer more than £50,000 to correct the blunder.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance said the figures, released following a Freedom of Information investigation by the Press Association, were “staggering”.

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John O’Connell, chief executive of pressure group the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “This careless attitude shows a lack of respect for those same taxpayers who pay their wages and are forced to pay for the repairs.

“Millions of people manage this task with their own cars by taking a modicum of care – police officers should extend the same courtesy to their vehicles.”

“It’s staggering that such a simple mistake is being made almost daily.”

Details of Police Scotland’s fuel blunders emerged as the national force remains under the spotlight over how it spends its £1.1 billion

Police Scotland is expected to find £1bn in savings by 2026.

Recently, it emerged the force plans to cut the number of officers by 100 in a move to save the organisation £2.7 million.

The move has been criticised by Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative MSPs and the Scottish Police Federation.

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The jobs cut plan is against a background of revelations that Police Scotland spent nearly £18m on consultants and outside contractors in the last financial year, including £1,000 a day spent on an interim director of people and development.

Another recent report showed Police Scotland has spent more than £115m on overtime payments since it was created five years ago. Last year alone, £16.3m was spent on overtime.

However at the other end of the scale, it emerged at the weekend that new police recruits have been told to bring their own paper to training sessions if they want printed lesson notes, with printer cartridges apparently only distributed if they are deemed “business critical”.

Out of the UK’s 45 police forces, 33 admitted paying out for repairs to a police vehicle after a mis-fuelling incident last year – at an average cost of £178 a time. Five forces did not respond.

In all, some 299 incidents of mis-fuelling were recorded, costing a total of £53,337.

West Midlands Police recorded the most incidents – 66, at a cost of £3,737. West Midlands Police fleet manager Gary Mallett said mistakes increased after 2013 when the force moved away from internal fuel sites and fuel keys to external fuel stations in a cost-cutting exercise.

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Meanwhile, the Met Police had 49 incidents, costing £17,589.57 in total to repair. A spokesman there said that since 2008 its vehicles had been refuelled 1.5 million times and mistakes were “a tiny proportion of total refuelling”.

Motoring organisations believe the problem will be eradicated completely when police forces adopt more electric cars.

AA president Edmund King said: “Perhaps we need a little more detective work at the pumps to ensure the right fuel goes in the right car.

“Until all police cars are electric we will probably still see mis-fuelling problems.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: ‘The number of misfuelling incidents that have occurred with Police Scotland is rare and therefore the figure ?is small”.

Holyrood’s justice committee marked the fifth anniversary of the merger of Scotland’s regional police forces by announcing an inquiry which will examine how effective the move has been.