BMW has confirmed it is looking into a ‘technical issue’ with its high performance police patrol cars and the way traffic officers drive them during pursuits.

The car manufacturer responded after The Northern Echo exclusively revealed officers in Durham Constabulary have been instructed not to drive the German-made cars over the speed limit.

BMWs are used in road policing 

It is understood the force’s fleet of around 30 vehicles is predominantly involved in road policing around the county.

Read more: Durham police told NOT to chase criminals due to 'problems' with their BMWs

But there have been reports across the country of BMWs fitted with an N57 engine bursting into flames if they go over 90mph.

A whistle-blower with Durham Constabulary said officers were frustrated they had been told not take part in high-speed chases due to safety concerns.

The serving officer said a ‘no pursuit’ policy was in place.

What has BMW said?

A spokesman for BMW said: “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.”

'No need for action on any civilian vehicles'

The spokesman said the problem was not an issue for BWM owners with private motor vehicles.

He said: “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.”

Background to BMW's statement - and the implications for policing 

The 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 confirmed a review of its vehicles is underway.

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

The directive applies to forces 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.

Read more: Echo comment: The public needs to know the police have all the tools they need

The whistle-blower said: “The BMWs have an issue where the engines are deemed no longer fit for purpose.

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

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