CommercialFleet

Bid to curb use of hire vans for terror attacks

Bid to curb use of hire vans for terror attacks, van terror attacks.

Telematics or tougher van hire rules should be employed to combat terrorism after vehicles were used in recent attacks.

Following the incident in June when a man drove a rented van into worshippers gathered near Finsbury Park Mosque in north London, leaving one man dead and eight injured, Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick has suggested regulations around hiring a van could need tightening. 

It came days after Khuram Butt, Youssef Zaghba and Rachid Redouane, used a hire van to mow down people on London Bridge before launching a knife rampage that left eight people dead and 48 injured. And in March, four people were left dead and more than 50 injured when Khalid Masood drove his rented vehicle into pedestrians walking across Westminster Bridge before crashing it into the Houses of Parliament and killing PC Keith Palmer.

Now the Government is investigating whether ‘geo-fencing’ could be used to neutralise unauthorised vehicles entering restricted zones.

Geo-fences are an electronic boundary, commonly employed by commercial fleet operators using telematics and tracking systems, which is created by the on-board computer working in conjunction with global positioning satellites. If the vehicle enters a specific area an alert can be raised or, in the case of combatting terrorism, the car, van or truck could be stopped in its tracks.

Trials of the technology have been taking place in Sweden after a truck was driven into pedestrians shopping in Stockholm in April, leaving four people dead.

The Swedish government said in a statement that geo-fencing was a “technological solution to enable only authorised vehicles to be driven within a geographically defined area”.

Its officials raised the matter at a briefing of the EU transport council last month, saying that it needed to consider what measures were available to combat the problem.

The UK’s deputy permanent representative to the EU, Katrina Williams, told the meeting: “We in the UK are looking urgently at how we further work with the transport sector and other relevant parties to share information, knowledge and experience, as we explore how we can mitigate this threat. 

“Like Sweden, we have also been looking at the role vehicle and digital technologies might play in preventing the impact of these attacks.”

Following the meeting, the transport council acknowledged in a statement that “new digital technologies, such as geo-fencing, can be useful in preventing and mitigating such attacks”.

Trak Global Group is convinced that telematics has a role to play. Andrew Brown-Allan, director of the technology company’s research division, Trak Labs, told Commercial Fleet: “It is now possible to immobilise a vehicle remotely, using the technology that goes into a telematics black box.

“Since 2015, there have been at least 14 vehicle attacks worldwide, with nearly 850 casualties. We need to harness this relatively new technology to stop terrorists turning vehicles into weapons of mass destruction.”

Brown-Allan explained that the police are becoming increasingly aware of telematics, with several examples of data being used in prosecutions. 

“If people are comfortable with telematics solving crime and preventing crime, there is no reason why it cannot be used for counter-terrorism,” he said. 

Tougher rules for hiring a van could also help, according to Cressida Dick. 

She told the London Assembly in the wake of the most recent UK attacks that rental rules could be tightened. “There’s a whole big review to be done. It might require some legislation; I don’t know. It might require some tweaking.”

However, while Dick acknowledged that it would be “very hard” to do something about van hire, she also urged rental companies to be vigilant.

Trade body, the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), said its members work closely with law enforcement organisations across the country to share information and best practice in relation to the latest security threats.  

“We have a long-established set of protocols to enable the efficient reporting of any suspicious activity and many operators have specialist security managers that regularly support the police with enquiries,” said chief executive Gerry Keaney. “We do not have access to counter-terrorism watch-lists, but we are exploring ways in which we can share information more effectively with law enforcement organisations to help them with their investigations.”

Darren Osborne, 47, from Cardiff, has been charged in connection with the Finsbury Park attack and is due to appear in court this month.



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Comments

  • PS - 03/08/2017 16:10

    What are they on about? How does a crackdown on van rental firms stop anybody buying a car for £50 and using it for the same purpose. It certainly wouldn't have "telematics" fitted or a tracker. Its obvious that the people carrying out atrocities are deranged and the police haven't sufficient resources to stop them even if it was possible. Get real!

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    • Nick @ plant-i - 03/08/2017 17:14

      Have to slightly agree with the above, geofencing is a great and our clients use it for a whole range of applications but I can't see how this can prevent tragedies like the above, same goes for our remote immobilisation features . I know that police forces are more aware of telematics ( I currently have 5 court order on my desk as we speak) but I can't see, if I as a customer passed all the checks and hired a van what can be done to prevent me committing these crimes? The hirer cant be a mind reader either, I think It comes down to maybe better screening/checks?

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  • Nat251 - 04/08/2017 08:13

    There is some logic to the above as telematics can be used to remotely shut down a vehicle, however as PS states it does not stop someone buying a cheap second hand car or van, or disconnecting the telematics

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  • Caz - 04/08/2017 09:03

    Telematics are a great idea however to small Van Rental companies this is an extra expense, this will put smaller companies under financcial pressure. There are other measures that can be taken to prevent these terroists getting their hands on the vehicles ! When renting a vehicle surely a deposit on a credit or credit card should be taken? Recently at a BVRLA course I met and spoke with one representitive from a new hire company and he told me that in and around London most hire companies do not ask for a Deposit in any shape or form. This is probably to compete with the ridicilous low prices that the multinational hire companies have on hire vehicles! Surely a deposit of at least £250.00 on a credit or debit card should be compulsory. Here in Northern Ireland we are very strict with ID (at least 3 forms of ID including licence) Deposit on a credit card and a Driver proposal form must be filled out, any thing that is suspicious gives us the right to question and also to refuse the hire. I have been to airports and collected cars that I prebooked and one in particular they did not ask for my licence and just asked me to sign the bottom of the form and gave me the keys!! Hardly high security! its up to the Rental firms to train their staff properly and it would also be of great help to have a bulletin stressing any security concerns to all Commercial Vehicle Hire companies.

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  • kdoyle - 04/08/2017 09:40

    What's stopping these people walking up to a truck at truck stop or even traffic lights, killing or seriously injuring the driver and then going on their killing spree. Think about drugs for a minute. No matter what the police or the government do, they will find another way to get drugs into a country and distrubute them into our neighbourhoods. Same applies here. Telematics is a great tool but it will only prevent them from carrying out their atrocities in one particular way. Action needs to be taken at our ports and stop these people from getting into the country. One case in Ireland recently, an Algerian male convicted at home and in France of terrorist offences has claimed he will be subjected to torture and inhumane conditions if exported home. ARE YOU FOR REAL?????????? Get him out!

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  • MC - 04/08/2017 09:56

    None of this will help in any way apart from unnecessary spending to companies. When these terrorist attrocities happen, it is all over so quickly, what possible data/evidence are you going to gain from a tracker?! You will know who is driving because they would have needed to show ID to hired the vehicle therefore you will know who is responsible. You will know what time it happened because it will be reported to Police and be all over the news. It will be seen by witnesses who can also tell you what happened. You will know roughly how fast/slow the vehicle was travelling by the severity of damage that was caused. The vehicle is not then used for their getaway so no need to track it! There's also CCTV in most places! None of this additional expense to businesses is necessary and will certainly NOT stop this from happening! Put the money into finding these idiots before they strike! We should all be vigilant but it doesnt have to cripple businesses!

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  • maria.cole_spoortech.com - 04/08/2017 10:08

    What a load of rubbish! None of this will help in any way apart from unnecessary spending to companies. When these terrorist attrocities happen, it is all over so quickly, what possible data/evidence are you going to gain from a tracker?! You will know who is driving because they would have needed to show ID to hired the vehicle therefore you will know who is responsible. You will know what time it happened because it will be reported to Police and be all over the news. It will be seen by witnesses who can also tell you what happened. You will know roughly how fast/slow the vehicle was travelling by the severity of damage that was caused. The vehicle is not then used for their getaway so no need to track it! There's also CCTV in most places! None of this additional expense to businesses is necessary and will certainly NOT stop this from happening! Put the money into finding these idiots before they strike! We should all be vigilant but it doesnt have to cripple businesses!

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