EU considering police ‘press to stop’ remote control

Police 'Press to Stop'

Photo credit: Nic Walker

Would you be happy for the police to remotely stop your car? It sounds like something from science fiction, but it has emerged that such a device is being considered by an EU wide official working group.

The feasibility of a system that would allow police to stop a car remotely is being examined by members of the European Network of Law Enforcement Technology Services (Enlets). Whether you drive your car on a contract hire or car leasing agreement, this new technology could have significant road safety and civil liberty repercussions. Keep reading to find out more…

Remote stopping a car could be a ‘proportionate response’ to crime

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

An EU document, from 4 December 2013, has set out the Enlets 2014-20 work programme and includes an initiative called ‘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 also points out that ‘cars on the run have proven to be dangerous for citizens’ and that ‘criminal offenders (from robbery to a simple theft) will take risks to escape after a crime.’

It adds: ‘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.’

The Daily Telegraph reports that ‘the devices, which could be in all new cars by the end of the decade, would be activated by a police officer working from a computer screen in a central headquarters.’

However, you need not expect such a device to appear in the next car your lease or contract hire. The BBC understands that the project is at the early stages and that the UK government has no plans at present to install remote stopping devices in private vehicles.

Politicians cite road safety and civil liberty concerns of ‘remote stopping’ devices

The introduction of stopping devices has raised a number questions relating to both road safety and civil liberties.

David Davis, the Conservative MP for Haltemprice and Howden, warned that the technology could pose a danger to all road users. He said: “I would be fascinated to know what the state’s liability will be if they put these devices in all vehicles and one went off by accident whilst a car was doing 70mph on a motorway with a truck behind it resulting in loss of life.”

Douglas Carswell, the Conservative MP for Clacton, attacked the plan for threatening civil liberties. He said: “The price we pay for surrendering our democratic sovereignty is that we are governed by an unaccountable secretive clique.”

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