Police ordered to limit speed in chases because of issues with BMWs

·3-min read
Police have been told not to drive too fast during pursuits and emergency call outs in some of their BMWs (Getty Images)
Police have been told not to drive too fast during pursuits and emergency call outs in some of their BMWs (Getty Images)

Police have been told not to drive too fast during pursuits and emergency call outs in some of their BMWs following the death of an officer.

Forces across the UK have ordered officers to avoid high-speed chases in BMW models with an N57 engine, while some have removed the vehicles from their fleet altogether.

Blue light responders have reportedly been advised not to go more than 20mph over the speed limit of the road they are travelling on.

It comes after the death of Cumbria Constabulary officer Nick Dumphreys, 47, whose engine burst into flames on the M6 in January 2020 while he was responding to a 999 call in a BMW 330 patrol car.

A pre-inquest review in May last year heard how the car driven by the police officer, who had been on the force for 17 years, returned to the constabulary's vehicle management unit at least four times in the month before his death.

BMW said the issue, affecting a small number of special high-performance vehicles, was down to a “technical matter” linked to “the particular way” police use their cars. The car manufacturer said there was no need for action on any civilian vehicles.

Cumbria Constabulary police officer Nick Dumphreys, 47, died after the engine of the BMW patrol car he was driving burst into flames as he responded to a 999 call in January 2020 (Cumbria Constabulary/Nick Dumphreys)
Cumbria Constabulary police officer Nick Dumphreys, 47, died after the engine of the BMW patrol car he was driving burst into flames as he responded to a 999 call in January 2020 (Cumbria Constabulary/Nick Dumphreys)

Durham Constabulary has adopted a “no pursuit policy” for its BMWs, which are driven only by armed and traffic officers.

The force said it was carrying out a review of its fleet, but that it was confident it would not affect its ability to respond to incidents.

Neighbouring Northumbria Police in September confirmed it had scrapped its fleet of BMW X5s as a precaution.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) could not confirm how many forces had been affected by the issue when asked by The Independent.

A spokesperson said mitigations were in place to maintain policing capability to pursue criminals.

Deputy Chief Constable Terry Woods, the NPCC’s lead on police driving, added: “We are aware there may be an issue with some older vehicles in our fleet and we are taking urgent steps to ensure this is addressed, including offering guidance to forces.

“Chiefs are working with the National Association of Police Fleet Managers to examine any risks.

“Our priority at this time is to ensure the safety and the long-term integrity of the equipment our officers use.”

BMW said in a statement: “We have been working with the police for some time on a technical matter linked to a small number of special high-performance vehicles.

“This issue is associated with the particular way in which the Police operate these high-performance vehicles.

“This unique usage profile puts extra strain on some components and therefore BMW has specified a special servicing programme for these vehicles. There is no need for action on any civilian vehicles.

“This has been a dynamic and developing situation and we continue to work closely with the police.”

A spokesman for Durham Constabulary spokesman said: “We are aware of a reported problem affecting some police vehicles across the country and have already taken steps to ensure the safety of both our officers and the public, including a review of our fleet to ensure that any potential issues are swiftly identified and addressed.

“Durham Constabulary remain confident that service delivery will be maintained while this review is being carried out.”

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