THERE were red faces at Hampshire Constabulary after one of its vehicles got stranded in the notorious Headley Ford.
Witnesses were quick to post embarrassing snaps of the rescue operation, just yards from warning signs, on social media.
Headley villager Simon Hiscock suggested that the police driver “should have known better” and added: “If it was a Volvo or Land Rover, it might have got through.
“A normal squad car would get stuck.”
Another resident, Mary Bayly, pointed out that there were new signs at the approach to the ford warning ‘Deep ford. Restricted access’.
She said: “To me that means, unless you know what you are doing, you don’t go through it.”
Hampshire Constabulary said in a statement on Tuesday: “We can confirm that on October 18, at 5.20pm, one of our roads policing vehicles broke down as it crossed the ford at Thornford Road at Headley.
“An investigation into what happened has shown the depth of the ford at the time was within the fording depth given by the manufacture for this type of vehicle (BMW X5 4x4), so it should have been able to pass through safely with care.
“Tests are now being carried out on the vehicle, but it’s not thought there has been any lasting damage.”
Pointing out that police vehicles were exempt from the closure at the ford, the statement continued: “The engine failure on this police car as it went through the water does, though, show how cautious people need to be when using any ford.”
Middlesex judge Jonathan Gammon was swept away and drowned in the River Enborne at the Thornford Road ford following flash floods in April 2012. He had been following sat nav instructions.
Villagers have said that drivers are still ignoring new warning signs at the approach as they chance their luck driving through the ford.
The ford remains without any permanent preventative barrier at either side and the river bed drops by several feet near the centre.
Many drivers were spotted by villagers stranded in the ford last week after taking their chances owing to lengthy delays on the nearby A339, at the junction with Thornford Road, following a burst main, that resulted in roadworks over several days.