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Defence industry tapped for e-scooter advice on hard stop devices

Technology vendors are being invited by the MoD’s innovation unit to come up with a device for officers to conduct hard stops of e-scooters involved in crime.

The defence industry has been asked to share ideas on developing new equipment to stop offenders using e-scooters to commit crime.

Arms companies, police suppliers and tech developers were invited to explain if it is possible to make a portable device that officers can deploy against offenders  moving at speed on the bikes.

The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) issued a call to market on whether the need for a stopping device could be met.

The Ministry of Defence’s industry innovation unit revealed it has been asked by the Home Office to assess if there are concepts or designs that could “enhance police ability to prevent and stop e-Scooters from being used for crime”.

The request has been generated because “this is a problem that has ministerial interest”.  

It follows warnings from Chiefs across the country that the vehicles are being used for crimes ranging from theft and assault to drug dealing.

Earlier this summer a Metropolitan Police officer was left with a broken leg after being hit by a rider.

Matthew Scott, Kent’s police and crime commissioner (PCC), has already warned they are crime generators and called for DoT trials of rented scooters to be halted.

Outside of the pilot areas they remain illegal to use on public roads as they are classed as a powered vehicle under the Road Traffic Act. Drivers can be fined and have points on their licence when caught.

The bikes can reach speeds of up to 40mph and riders rarely wear helmets so bringing them to a safe halt is a significant issue for response teams.

There is no device available that has been proven to stop scooters.

DASA said there is “an operational need for police to be able to bring these vehicles to a controlled stop in a manner which does not pose a significant risk to the rider, the public or police officers. Therefore, there is a significant desire to augment or replace solutions to this problem.

“We would like to focus on emerging and current technologies/systems that are judged to have potential to provide the effects required by the police,” DASA said.

“This may include technology that has not been deployed operationally before or could include a combination of different technologies/mechanisms/techniques to provide the desired effect.”

The device specification is hugely challenging:

Part of the pilot scheme has included using geofencing which tracks the location of a scooter. The system, developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) installs the tracker directly onto the vehicle.

DASA said: “We will consider solutions which would allow E-Scooters, E-Bikes or suspects using them to commit crime, to be electronically located post event, thus reducing the need for a vehicle pursuit.”

But officials don’t want costed proposals or scientific research papers.

“We are interested in innovative capabilities and ideas for stopping or preventing E-Scooter and E-Bike crime at any maturity level,” the call out said. “Submissions should be provided by teams with the experience and knowledge necessary to establish sound scientific evidence for any potential technology and associated hardware.”

There was also a clue about what will happen to any proposals that reach the MoD’s team.

It said: “Your submission may be exposed to law enforcement stakeholders at a roundtable discussion convened to consider the submitted ideas. Potentially successful technologies and concepts may be exploited within any future acquisition programmes.”

Submissions must be submitted by midday on 9 November 2021. 

To register your submission, go HERE

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