Wiltshire Police is replacing its fleet of BMW cars after it was revealed many cannot pursue fleeing criminals.

The force confirmed it has a small number of 'older vehicles' affected after constabularies across the UK with the same cars have been ordered not to chase criminals in them.

The problem, believed to be related to specific models of high-powered BMWs with an N57 engine, became a national story after a police whistle-blower leaked documents to the Northern Echo showing senior officers ordering traffic and firearms officers to avoid going too fast, unless life was at risk. 

A spokesperson for Wiltshire Police confirmed it was also under these orders as a small number of its cars were BMWs but added they were taking steps to resolve it. 

"We are in the process of replacing the very few vehicles in our fleet that fall into this category.

"We are actively managing the risk by implementing the necessary mitigation measures to ensure the safety of our officers."

The whistle-blower from Durham Police told The Northern Echo that the "no pursuit policy" was leaving officers "frustrated" that they could not do their jobs properly.

But officials say the 'non-negotiable' ban on high-performance features and engine idling has been made to keep officers safe as it was implemented after after PC Nick Dumphreys died when a BMW police vehicle caught fire during a 999 call in Cumbria in 2020.

Two more similar fires are believed to have happened since then. 

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on police driving, deputy chief constable Terry Woods, said: "We are aware there may be an issue with some older vehicles in our fleet and we are taking urgent steps to ensure this is addressed, including offering guidance to forces.

“Chiefs are working with the National Association of Police Fleet Managers to examine any risks.

“Our priority at this time is to ensure the safety and the long-term integrity of the equipment our officers use.”

BMW confirmed to the Northern Echo that civilian drivers shouldn't be worried and  it was working with the police to resolve the issues. 

“We have been working with the police for some time on a technical matter linked to a small number of special high-performance vehicles," their spokesperson said. 

“This issue is associated with the particular way in which the police operate these high-performance vehicles.

“This unique usage profile puts extra strain on some components and therefore BMW has specified a special servicing programme for these vehicles.

“There is no need for action on any civilian vehicles."