I was interested by the evolving story of how a policeman from Greater Manchester Police managed to spectacularly wreck a new VW Golf R in the wee small hours of the morning recently.

It started with a report on the BBC News website that told us that:

“The Greater Manchester Police officer crashed the £33,000 VW Golf R on Wharfside Way, Old Trafford, at about 01:50 GMT on 15 December.

The driver was taken to hospital and treated for a back injury.

A Greater Manchester Police spokesman refused to reveal details of how the crash happened.

He said that “as a result of the incident, GMP is reviewing its policy on officers test driving cars”.

The officer, who has recovered from his injuries, is currently suspended from driving duties while an internal investigation takes place.”

The photo of the car shows just how much damage was done: not just a little bit of superficial damage as you might expect from a shunt on an urban road.

Wrecked Golf R

It'll polish out with a bit of T-Cut

Now Section 19 of the Road Safety Act 2006 amends Section 87 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 which grants police an exemption from speed limits when a vehicle is being used for police purposes. “Police purposes” is a pretty wide-ranging description but you do have to wonder what on earth this officer was doing at that time of the morning at the sort of speeds he must have been doing to cause that sort of damage whilst, apparently, testing the car for possible police use.

But the story gets better: apparently the driver was PC Paul Fletcher who was regularly seen on the TV programme “Car Wars” doing high speed chases.

PC Paul Fletcher

PC Paul Fletcher on "Car Wars"

And GMP stated that no other vehicle was involved, despite emerging reports that in fact the whole thing was caught on camera by another high performance car out at the same time on the same piece of road when PC Fletcher – a trained driver, remember – lost control on a roundabout. Hmm. Racing each other, perhaps? That’s surely what the police would say if you or I were doing the same thing?

Greater Manchester Police are, supposedly, reviewing their policies in this regard but surely testing a vehicle would be better done on, say, the MIRA test facilities which are purpose-built for such testing?

Maybe next time I get a pull for speeding – at a significantly lower speed than that which would have led to a car being written off so badly as the Golf – I could just say I was testing its suitability? Ah wait: I don’t have the exemption they’ll be hiding behind whilst driving as dangerously as they do…