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A remote ‘kill switch’ to immobilise HGVs is being secretly developed by UK government scientists who fear a Nice-style ISIS massacre in the UK. They are investigating methods of interfering with the electronics of lorries to stop them in their tracks if hijacked or used in an attack.

In Nice, France, the attack ended with a trail of carnage as a truck rammed through the coastal city’s packed promenade during Bastille Day celebrations. Last December, a truck was deliberately driven into the Christmas market in Berlin.

Experts in the UK Home Office’s scientific wing want to develop and install a technology which would enable them to stop high risk vehicles remotely. These include HGVs and other large vehicles, particularly those carrying hazardous loads such as fuel and chemicals.

Known as Project Restore, which stands for the REmote STOpping of Road Engines, they are also setting minimum standards for the innovation.

‘Law enforcement are looking at the technical ability to immobilise vehicles when criminals misuse them,’ said one senior official. `This would have the added benefit of increasing the security of vehicles making them more difficult to steal. It also gives police an additional option for stopping a moving vehicle and regaining control without the use of firearms.’

It seems that the problem is that stinger-type devices do not work on large vehicles so there needs to be another way of stopping or slowing a vehicle down.

According to the Daily Mail, landmark buildings, transport hubs and public buildings are already protected by heavy concrete bollards and gates designed to prevent access in a Nice-like scenario. Temporary measures to seal off streets are also used during major public events such as the Notting Hill Carnival and Royal celebrations. Police advisors fear it could be all too easy for a terrorist to hire or steal an HGV, or even pose as a bogus employee.

Earlier this year, Scotland Yard boss Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said he would like to be able to switch off all vehicles, including mopeds, remotely.

‘My ideal scenario would be that we’d have a device that slowed down the car in front,’ he said.

‘It may sound far-fetched but these things can be developed and, of course, now cars have got more electronic brains, so that for me that would be a great opportunity to safely slow down the vehicle.’

It is not the first time that policing agencies have investigated a ‘kill switch’ for cars, and similar devices are already available in the private sector. Two years ago it was revealed that the European Union is secretly developing the technology as part of wider law enforcement surveillance and tracking measures. A leaked document said the technological solution would become a ‘build in standard’ for all cars that enter the European market.

It could be activated from a police worker monitoring the movement of the vehicle via GPS from a control centre.

‘Cars on the run can be dangerous for citizens,’ said the document. ‘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.’