London Metropolitan Police Chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has strongly defended his new £65,000 chauffeur-driven Range Rover which comes with a £1,000 in-built entertainment system comprising TV screens and DVD players. He says the three-litre Range Rover Vogue SE was not a luxury as he "needs to watch the news on TV."
The vehicle was delivered to the police chief just days before he lashed out at the Home Office 's spending cuts, which he said would jeopardise public safety. Speaking on the LBC radio show on Wednesday 13 January, Hogan-Howe said that he needed to replace his old Range Rover, which had clocked 130,000 miles and had started breaking down.
He said: "All we've done is replace the old one. It's not that I've bought a very good car for myself compared to what it was before. It was just a replacement."
He said the replacement of his old Range Rover was delayed for two years. "I was told I should replace it two years ago. We were losing £600m at the time and I didn't think it was very sensible. But the car has now done 130,000 miles and it's getting less reliable and at some point it has to be replaced.
He also defended the need for a large vehicle, saying that it had to accommodate his security team. "You can argue should it be such a nice car. Well, I do have some security arrangements which means there are more than one of us in the car, and it has to be quite a big one," he said.
As for the need for a TV, he said: "The in-house entertainment ... what it means is I do get access to Sky News and a few other things because that's the way my life runs, I have to run a big organisation and be responsible and be accountable to 8.6 million people often through the press or through MPs and other people who are elected so we have to respond quickly."
He added: "Things like that may seem a luxury but I don't sit there all day watching TV, put it that way." The new vehicle however has not gone done well with some. Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, the deputy chairman of the London Assembly's police and crime committee said: "I would question expenditure on what seems to be luxury goods."
The Met Police said in a statement that the Range Rover was for both personal and business use and that it was bought following a recommendation by the force's fleet services department. "Options for a new vehicle were put to the commissioner by the fleet services experts," the department said.
"The purchase of the new vehicle followed due process ensuring the best possible value was achieved and was approved by the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime," it added.