WEST Yorkshire Police have refused to reveal if any of their patrol cars have issues with their engines meaning they cannot be used in high-speed pursuits.

The force declined to comment when asked if any vehicles were affected; this follows the revelation that police in Durham have been told not to pursue criminals at high speeds due to safety issues with police BMW vehicles.

  • What about privately owned cars? Read BMW's statement here

First reported by our sister paper The Northern Echo, a whistleblower revealed a ‘no pursuit policy’ has been introduced on traffic and firearms officers not to exceed the speed limit in affected BMW vehicles unless there is immediate threat to life.

It has sparked fears that criminals may be able to evade capture by police simply by speeding off.

The problem is affecting some vehicles nationwide, Durham Constabulary said, and the National Police Chiefs’ Council is also investigating and working with forces to identify any issues with older vehicles.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Trafalgar House, Bradford District Police headquartersTrafalgar House, Bradford District Police headquarters

The whistleblower in the North East said some BMWs engines are “deemed no longer fit for purpose” and that traffic officers are “not to blue light or pursue any vehicles” when driving affected cars.

They called the situation “frustrating” and said the issue has been “ongoing for months with no change”, criticising senior management.

An internal policy memo also leaked to the Northern Echo said speed limits must only be broken in cases with “an immediate risk to life” and “only when absolutely necessary”, and that some high-performance features are not to be used, that cars must be driven conservatively and not left idling.

The directive was implemented following the death of PC Nick Dumphreys in Cumbria in January 2020, who died when his BMW police vehicle caught fire while responding to a 999 call, leading to his BMW 3 Series crashing on the M6.

An inquest hearing into his death in July 2020 heard there “may have been an issue” with the car’s engine, and that there was a recall of the model of car he was driving that day in October 2019.

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.”

West Yorkshire Police declined to add anything further to the statement of the NPCC when asked if it had identified any affected vehicles amongst its active fleet, and if so, what action was being taken to address the issues.