POLICE in Durham have been ordered NOT to pursue criminals at high speeds due to safety issues with their high-powered BMW vehicles, the Echo can exclusively reveal.

A ‘no pursuit policy’ has been introduced by the force sparking fears that criminals could get away simply by driving over the speed limit.

A police whistle-blower shared documents from senior officers at Durham Police ordering traffic and firearms officers not to exceed the speed limit in affected BMW vehicles unless there is an immediate threat to life.

Read more: UK police ordered NOT to chase criminals due to issues with their BMWs

Durham Constabulary today confirmed a review of its vehicles is underway after politicians labelled the situation ‘astonishing.’

The Northern Echo:

'It's just frustrating'

The whistle-blower, who The Northern Echo is not identifying, said: “The BMWs have an issue where the engines are deemed no longer fit for purpose. 

“Durham (Police) have taken the stance quite some time ago that the roads policing unit are not to blue light or pursue any vehicle. 

Read more: The shocking number of spiking incidents in County Durham since September 2021

“This is still in force and is very frustrating as there seems to be no movement to solve the issue.  

“It’s just frustrating for the cops on the ground.”

The directive applies across the country and was implemented after PC Nick Dumphreys died when a BMW police vehicle caught fire during a 999 call in Cumbria in 2020.

It is understood at least two more fires have been reported since.

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The whistle-blower said: “The lack of action from the senior management team is poor.

“It’s been ongoing for months with no change.”

The Echo has seen documents from senior Durham police officers outlining the policy.

It confirmed: “The no pursuit policy is still in place, save for an Article 2 issue. We have been instructed to drive at road speed only.”

Read more: Why we've covered the frustrations facing police officers over their 'problem' BMWs

Article 2 issues, as outlined in the Human Rights Act 1998, are those that involve an immediate risk to life.

What does the internal policy say?

The policy was outlined in a serious of bullet points seen by the Echo. They said:

  • All BMW drivers are aware that vehicles must be driven within the speed limits and that only in clear Article 2 risk circumstances are the speed limits broken and only when absolutely necessary;
  • Some of the high performance features on the vehicles are not to be used;
  • The vehicles are to be driven conservatively at all times;
  • Vehicles must not be left idling.

The documents also stressed that the policy is ‘non-negotiable’ leaving officers frustrated that they cannot do their jobs properly.

Read more: Engine fire ‘led to’ M6 crash which killed police officer

The Echo has also seen directives from January 16, this year, ordering one firearms officer’s vehicle to be ‘taken off the road with immediate effect.’

It added: “This vehicle IS NOT to be used under any circumstances.”

North Durham MP Kevan Jones described the revelations as ‘astonishing’.

He said: “Having police cars that can't purse criminals is pointless and will rightly be viewed with dismay by the public.”

What Durham Police have said

A Durham Constabulary spokesman confirmed the review of the BMW fleet was underway.

He 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.”

The National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on police driving, Deputy Chief Constable Terry Woods, said Chief Constables are working with the National Association of Police Fleet Managers to examine any risks.

He said: “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.

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

BMW has been contacted for comment.


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