EU group mulls 'remote car-stopping device' for police

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
In future technology might enable police to avoid some dangerous car chases

A device that would enable police to stop vehicles remotely is being considered by an EU-wide official working group, it has emerged.

The feasibility of such technology is being examined by members of the European Network of Law Enforcement Technology Services (Enlets).

The technology could impact on both road safety and civil liberties.

The BBC understands it would take several years for any such technical proposal to be drafted.

One EU document, from 4 December, sets out the Enlets 2014-20 work programme as including: "Remote Stopping Vehicles".

It says "this project will work on a technological solution that can be a 'build in standard' for all cars that enter the European market". It is not clear what cost implications that would have for car makers.

The work of Enlets is little known and has emerged in part through documents published by the civil liberties campaign group Statewatch.

The December document points out that "cars on the run have proven to be dangerous for citizens" and "criminal offenders (from robbery to a simple theft) will take risks to escape after a crime.

"In most cases the police are unable to chase the criminal due to the lack of efficient means to stop the vehicle safely. This project starts with the knowledge that insufficient technology tools are available to be used as part of a proportionate response."

So far there is no technical specification for the type of device that police forces may eventually use.

Enlets is part of the EU Council's Law Enforcement Working Party - an intergovernmental body helping police to fight serious and organised crime, in part by raising awareness of new technology.

But the BBC understands that the project is at the early stages of looking into feasibility, and that the UK government has no plans at present to install remote stopping devices in private vehicles.

A source familiar with Enlets said it was unlikely that such devices could be in new cars by the end of the decade.

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