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Officers “need to challenge” the continued use of BMW N57

The widow of PC Nick Dumphreys has said BMW’s decision to discontinue sales to police forces is the “first step in the right direction”.

The widow of PC Nick Dumphreys, who was killed in a road accident while responding to an emergency call, has asked officers to “stand up and challenge” some forces’ continued use of BMWs with the N57 engine.

It follows an announcement from BMW this month that they would stop supplying police vehicles to UK forces.

The company’s International & Specialist Sales Division (in charge of the sale of specialist vehicles such as those used by the police) closed as BMW said it would be prioritising sales to retail and corporate customers.

The inquest into the death of PC Nick Dumphreys heard that the BMW N57 engine in the cars that Nick and many of his colleagues across the country were driving had a litany of faults - for a four-year period, the vehicles’ N57 engine was failing five to seven times a month in police cars, more than 200 occurrences.

PC Dumphreys, 47 suffered fatal injuries when his car – a BMW 330 - veered across the motorway and crashed near Carlisle on the afternoon of 26 January 2020. The inquest in Carlisle heard that at the time of the tragedy, the officer was responding to an emergency call for back-up and that his driving did not contribute to the accident.

The inquest recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Kathryn Dumphreys, also a PC with Cumbria, told Police Oracle: “I wake up every day and wonder if somebody else is going to die. I feel I have a responsibility to speak up to prevent that.

“As far as I’m concerned it’s quite simply really – obviously I can simplify it, but if you’re going to put your officers in cars and expect them to drive them at high speeds and in the way they are trained to do so- long idling times and then high engine loads at high speeds - then you’ve got to give them safe equipment

“If you cannot guarantee the integrity of that equipment, they shouldn’t be making them use them – it’s not the officers’ choice it’s the chief officers’ choice.”

GMP Deputy Chief Constable Terry Woods, NPCC lead on police driving, following BMW’s announcement said: “A national position has already been adopted regarding the end of life of the affected BMWs.

“Vehicles that have been assessed as at risk and unsuitable for police use have been removed from service and their engine made unusable prior to disposal.

“Any remaining usable BMWs with the engine type identified are subject to rigorous monitoring.”

Kathryn told Police Oracle that she has not heard from the NPCC or forces who are continuing to use the vehicles since BMW’s announcement.

She said: “If [DCC Terry Woods] sat through that inquest and listened to the evidence of the independent expert – he would have heard the expert say that the damage is being done very early in the life of those engines – within a few thousand miles.

“You cannot tell me that they can guarantee those vehicles are safe

“I get there will be issues [with phasing out and replacements] but how can they justify it?

“If they want to come and explain this to my two children and tell me why they can’t get rid of them immediately. They have known about this for years.”

Kathryn added that she has been well supported by the Federation throughout all of this. Senior management, however, has not communicated well with her and she described a “lack of acceptance of any responsibility”.

Cumbria stopped the use of BMWs with the N57 engine after Nick’s death – it was, however, a decision she heard about through colleagues and the Federation.

Chief Constable Michelle Skeer, Cumbria Constabulary, said: “The death of a police officer in the line of duty is always a tragedy.

“On January 26th 2020, Nick Dumphreys left home to help protect the people of Cumbria.

“He died responding to an emergency incident.

“Our thoughts since that day have been with Nick's family, particularly his wife Kat and their children.

“PC 1724 Dumphreys was a committed roads policing officer who loved his job and was both popular with and respected by, his colleagues.

“His loss left a hole which will never fully heal.”

For Kathryn: “The job hasn’t changed, the use of those cars has not changed, policing has always been of that nature- always used traffic cars to do what they’re doing now. 

“[Officers] need to challenge it, they need to stand up, be heard and demand safe equipment because at the moment the powers that be aren’t listening.” 

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