Salisbury Journal

ALMOST £900,000 has been spent scrapping and replacing emergency vehicles following last year’s Novichok incident, the Salisbury Journal can reveal.

Data collected from both South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) and Wiltshire Police confirmed that 24 cars, vans, 4x4s, and ambulances needed to be destroyed following the poisonings in the city last March and in Amesbury last June.

Retrieved through Freedom of Information requests submitted by the Journal, the estimated total loss due to the scrapped vehicles for both emergency services stacked up to a massive £431,922.

This does not include the £460,000 spent by Wiltshire Police on replacing its scrapped fleet, as well as loaning of vehicles whilst new ones were being sought.

In total, £891,922 has been spent, and all vehicles for both services have been replaced, like-for-like.

Both services have confirmed that all costs were recouped from central government.

Figures revealed that the biggest losses were accrued by SWASFT, despite scrapping just eight vehicles.  Three of those were Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 519 CDI ambulances, with one valued at £137,318, another at £56,673, and the third at £56,506.  Four Skoda Octavia 4x4s also needed to be destroyed, valued at a combined £93,334.

As well as these, the service confirmed that a Skoda Octavia Scout 4x4 was scrapped, but due to its age of nine years, had no loss value.

Salisbury Journal: The Novichok incident has demonstrated a failure to protect our society from the violence and invasion of other independent societies

Wiltshire Police, on the other hand, destroyed double the amount of vehicles as the ambulance service (16), but only lost £88,091.  These included a marked Vauxhall Vivaro, valued at £12,837, a marked Ford Ranger (£10,429), and an unmarked Vauxhall Astra (£9,780).  Other vehicles scrapped included a further 10 Astras (both marked and unmarked), another marked Ford Ranger, a marked Honda CRV, and a marked Skoda Yeti.

However, the force did confirm that six of these vehicles had no retail value, due to their age, and so no losses were accrued for their disposal.

Angus Macpherson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire said: “I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to recoup all costs so far incurred by Wiltshire Police in relation to the incidents last year.

“When an operational response is of the scale that Wiltshire Police’s was, it is no surprise that there were significant costs involved with the operations costing more than 10 per cent of Wiltshire Police’s annual policing budget.”

Salisbury Journal: Police at the house in Muggleton Road in Amesbury where a couple fell ill after being exposed to the nerve agent Novichok (Steve Parsons/PA)

A spokesman for SWASFT added: “We can confirm that three double-crewed ambulances and four rapid response vehicles involved in the response to the Salisbury and Amesbury incidents in March and June 2018 were dismantled and moved to a hazardous waste landfill site. This location is fully sealed and highly regulated by the Environment Agency to ensure waste is disposed of safely.

“The costs involved in the destruction of these vehicles, including staff overtime, have been covered by NHS England.”

“The vehicles have all been replaced at no additional cost.”