THE European Union is secretly developing a "remote stopping" device that would be fitted to all cars and allow police to disable vehicles at the flick of a switch.
Confidential documents from a committee of senior EU police officers, who meet in secret, set out the plan as part of wider law enforcement surveillance and tracking measures.
"The project will work on a technological solution that can be a 'build-in standard' for all cars that enter the European market," said the document.
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 in a central control room. Once enabled, the suspect vehicle's fuel supply would be cut and the ignition switched off, bringing it to a halt.
The technology, scheduled for a six-year development timetable, is aimed at bringing dangerous high-speed car chases to an end and to make techniques such as spiking tyres redundant.
The proposal was outlined as part of the "key objectives" for the European Network of Law Enforcement Technologies (Enlets), an offshoot of a European working party aimed at enhancing police co-operation across the EU.
Statewatch, a watchdog monitoring police powers, state surveillance and civil liberties in the EU, has leaked the documents amid concerns that the technology poses a serious threat to civil liberties. "Let's have some evidence that this is a problem, and then let's have some guidelines on how this would be used," said Tony Bunyan, the director of Statewatch.
Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, said the measure was "incredible" and a "draconian imposition". "It is appalling they are even thinking of it," he said.
Although yet to be developed, Enlets argues the technology's merits. "Cars on the run can be dangerous for citizens," a document states. "Criminal offenders will take risks to escape after a crime. In most cases the police are unable to chase the criminal due to a lack of efficient means to stop the vehicle safely."
David Davis, a Conservative MP, said the technology could pose a danger to all road users. "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." (© Daily Telegraph, London)