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Smart Fortwo 'Forcops'

Smart Forcops! NYPD replaces motorbikes with Smarts

Smart Fortwo 'Forcops'Smart has delivered the first 100 Fortwo city cars ordered in an innovative piece of thinking by the New York City Police Department – and the new micro-motors are already being dubbed ‘Smart Forcops’.

Replacing the city’s old three-wheel motorcycles (not dissimilar to the machine driven by Officer Judy Hopps in the animated film Zootopia), they’ve been chosen because they’re more spacious and practical than the old motorcycles, but almost as agile and, it is hoped, considerably more reliable.

They also have air conditioning – which Deputy Commissioner Robert S. Martinez believes will be a real boon to city cops during the stifling New York summers.

Forming part of the 9,000-vehicle NYPD fleet, cops have ordered 250 Smart Fortwos in total, all finished in white and blue  and fitted with a blue revolving police light on the roof. The interior is also decked out in radio equipment.

One of the first NYPD cops to drive the new Smart Fortwo ‘Forcops’ is officer Ralph Jefferson, whose beat is in Chinatown.

“The smart is spacious and agile and makes my job much easier,” he said.

“Many people say that the little patrol cars are really cute, too.” We think that’s perhaps not a look cops might be completely thrilled with, but hey – if it’s good for community relations, who are we to argue?

In pictures: Smart Fortwo ‘Forcops’

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135 drivers hit with lane hogging fines since 2013

135 drivers hit with lane hogging fines since 2013

135 drivers hit with lane hogging fines since 2013

A freedom of information investigation has discovered that just 135 on-the-spot fines have been dished out for lane hogging since police were given new powers to prosecute at the roadside in 2013.

The law was introduced in August 2013, giving police officers the power to fine motorists £100 and hit them with three points on their licence for sitting in the middle lane of the motorway.

Confusingly, of the 45 police forces questioned about the penalties, only 8 were able to give an exact number of lane hoggers they’ve prosecuted – the rest simply classed it as ‘careless driving’.

This offence also covers things like tailgating, undertaking and even driving too slowly – with 1,158 drivers hit with fines for careless driving since 2013. This means the real number of lane hogging fines could be higher, but it still means that only a few hundred lane hoggers are caught each year on average.

The investigation, carried out by Confused.com, mirrors a similar investigation by Motoring Research in 2014 – which found that police on London’s orbital motorway, the M25, dished out just 13 lane hogging fines in the first year since the law was introduced.

Confused.com’s motoring editor, Amanda Stretton, said: “Middle lanes aren’t for coasting in, because this practice can cause congestion and dangerous manoeuvres from other drivers. Not only could you find yourself with a £100 fine or points, but you could put your own life and others at risk.”

Research by the website found that almost one in five (19%) drivers say they have never been taught about middle-lane hogging – as motorways are not included in the practical driving test.

This could help explain why 50% of motorists believe that some drivers aren’t even aware that they’re staying put in the middle lane in the first place.

Worryingly, almost two-fifths (37%) of UK drivers are unaware that middle-lane hogging is an offence punishable by a fine and points on your licence.

Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa Rijkspolitie

This Porsche 911 is the reason Dutch kids grew up wanting to be traffic cops

Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa RijkspolitieWhat you’re looking at is the sole reason why, statistically*, more Dutch children grew up wanting to work for the highway police than in any other European country. The Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa Rijkspolitie is the coolest cop car you’ll see today and it’s going under the hammer at the Zoute Sale in Brussels.

*We made this up.

Better than a Vauxhall AstraPorsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa Rijkspolitie

What’s Dutch for ‘Ne Nah, Ne Nah, Ne Nah’? While you were growing up watching police-liveried Austin Maestros in Juliet Bravo, Vauxhall Astras in The Bill and Ford Anglias in Heartbeat, Dutch kids were sat in the back of their father’s Opel Asconas and Vectras watching 911s engaged in a game of kat en muis.

 

The boys in whitePorsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa Rijkspolitie

Rijkspolitie (government police) and Porsche have a history stretching back to 1962 and the formation of a special traffic format – the Algemene Verkeersdienst (AVD). The ‘boys in blue’ actually switched from blue to white uniforms, making them the ‘boys in white’.

Stoppen in de naam van de RijkspolitiePorsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa Rijkspolitie

These men in white suits needed a set of wheels to patrol the flat lands of the Netherlands and – resisting the temptation to drive a Ford Anglia – they looked across the border and spoke to some friends in Stuttgart. Quicker than you could say ‘stoppen in de naam van de Rijkspolitie’, 12 Porsche 356 Convertibles were delivered to the AVD.

The kings of cool?Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa Rijkspolitie

This marked the beginning of a relationship spanning three decades, during which time these Porsche-driving coppers cemented their reputation as the kings of cool. If you’re going to get pulled over by a police car, make sure it’s a Porsche.

Roofless law enforcementPorsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa Rijkspolitie

The Rijkspolitie soon switched to the Porsche 911, favouring the Targa for its visibility and the fact that emergency officers could stand on the seat and give directions to other road users. Try doing that through the sunroof of an Austin Metro panda car.

500 cars orderedPorsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa Rijkspolitie

In total, the Dutch traffic cops bought over 500 different cars from Porsche, only a handful of which survive. These cars wouldn’t have come cheap, so you have to admire the negotiation skills of the AVD. Spending the cash on a fleet of 911s must have been a political hot potato.

Staying cool, staying alivePorsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa Rijkspolitie

According to PetrolBlog, one justification for the expense was that the rear-mounted, air-cooled engine of the 911 wouldn’t overheat when reversing at high speed on the motorway emergency lane. Such things matter when you’re guarding the tail of a traffic jam.

Box of delightsPorsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa Rijkspolitie

As you’d expect, these law enforcer ‘Porkas’ were treated to one or two upgrades. The rear seats were removed, with a wooden box of police equipment put in its place. Misbehaving drivers weren’t invited to discuss their misdemeanors in the back of these cop cars.

Everything a copper could ever needPorsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa Rijkspolitie

The wooden boxes – which had the look of something put together in a Dutch garden shed – contained gloves, an alcohol tester, instructional paperwork, handcuffs, tape measure, white markers, camera, two warning triangles, fire extinguisher, towing cable, first aid kit, set of spare bulbs, wheel wrench and a cuddly toy. Probably.

Items not found in a Porsche brochurePorsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa Rijkspolitie

Other modifications included two internal rear-view mirrors, additional electrical wiring for communications, flashing lights, STOP sign, extra reversing and fog lights, mobile telephone and rear-mounted loudspeaker.

Filling your rear-view mirrorPorsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa Rijkspolitie

Seriously, if you catch sight of this view in your rear-view mirror, one of two things is going to go through your mind: ‘floor it’ or ‘it’s a fair cop, guv’. If you opt for the former (tut tut), the ensuing chase would be quite epic. The Dutch equivalent of Police, Camera, Action! would be more thrilling than a Vectra chasing a hoodie in a stolen Nova through an Oxfordshire housing estate.

From Porsche to VolvoPorsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa Rijkspolitie

In 1993, the Rijkspolitie switched to Volvo, bringing to an end a highly visible 30 years of of life with Porsche. Dutch coppers cried into their Amstel beer, while the police dogs breathed a huge sigh of relief. Squeezing into the load area of a Porsche 911 can’t have been fun…

The Zoute SalPorsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa Rijkspolitie

Bonhams is auctioning this 1989 example at The Zoute Sale on 7 August 2016. It’s offered with a guide price of £76,000 – £130,000, which seems like a small price to pay for a 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa in full Rijkspolitie specification.

ALEX 12.24Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa Rijkspolitie

It patrolled the Dutch highways between 1989 and 1991, making it one of the last Carrera 3.2s to be delivered to the Rijkspolitie. While in service, it was designated the call sign ‘ALEX 12.24’.

Politie Technische DienstPorsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa Rijkspolitie

The final production year model – used by the Politie Technische Dienst (PTD) – is fitted with the desirable G50 gearbox and has been restored by Porsche Centro Assistenza Pordenone.

Comical moustaches available separatelyPorsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa Rijkspolitie

It’s offered with no reserve and comes complete with original suits, helmets and accessories. Doughnuts and comical moustaches available separately.

Bonhams auction: 7 October 2016Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa Rijkspolitie

If you fancy chasing Saab 900 Turbos at 200km/h on Dutch motorways, this is the car for you. Actually, don’t do that, but if you fancy a slice of Dutch law enforcement history, the Bonhams Zoute Sale takes place on 7 October in Brussels, Belgium.

Drivers warned NOT to stop for unmarked police cars

Drivers warned NOT to stop for unmarked police cars

Drivers warned NOT to stop for unmarked police cars

Essex Police are warning motorists not to pull over if requested to do so by an unmarked police car, following a spate of vehicle thefts by fake traffic cops.

Officers have been told not to pull over drivers in unmarked cars, unless it’s an emergency.

It comes after two vans were stolen by thieves dressed as police officers – with one reportedly carrying a handgun. Both thefts are believed to have taken place on Essex motorways – one on the M25, the other on the M11.

It’s thought that a silver Ford Mondeo equipped with blue lights was used in both incidents.

Det Ch Insp Stuart Smith said: “We have taken this decision to safeguard motorists in Essex while these offenders remain outstanding.

“Our victims have told us that the suspects are purporting to be police officers and are wearing body armour to further enhance this deception in order to steal these vans.

“Anyone who is signalled at to stop by someone in a car which may appear to be an unmarked police is asked not to stop but to call 999 immediately to verify whether the vehicle and its occupants are genuine.”

Anyone with information about the bogus unmarked police car are requested to phone 101 urgently.

Racing driver caught at 121mph in his Volkswagen Golf

Racing driver caught doing twice the speed limit in his Volkswagen Golf

Racing driver caught at 121mph in his Volkswagen Golf

A racing driver has been banned from driving after being caught doing 121mph in his Volkswagen Golf on a North Wales A-road.

Bentley Motors mechanic and MINI Challenge driver Rob Smith admitted breaking the 60mph speed limit along the A4 between Ty Nant and Dinmael, North Wales, on a Sunday morning in February.

> More car news on Motoring Research

The Telford petrolhead of Farr Lane, Muxton, has been banned from driving for 28 days and fined £500, with £85 costs and a £50 surcharge.

He was caught by a police camera van on the A-road at 8.40am on February 14, with prosecutors highlighting a sign warning that pedestrians may be crossing 250 years further up the road.

In defence, Smith’s barrister Julian King said conditions were clear and dry, with no other vehicles about.

He asked the court to consider six penalty points – which would take him to nine – but magistrates said they had to give an immediate disqualification, despite taking into account his remorse and early guilty plea.

Police chief fined £586 for driving police car with bald tyres

Police chief fined £586 for driving police car with bald tyres

Police chief fined £586 for driving police car with bald tyres

Company car drivers be warned – you could be held responsible for driving an unroadworthy vehicle on the roads, as ex-Dyfed Powys police and crime commissioner Christopher Salmon has discovered.

Salmon, who was defeated at the polls earlier this month, has been hit with a £586 fine after his own force reported him to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

He was caught in October after suffering a blow-out while using a BMW pool car which was found to have two illegal tyres.

In a statement, Salmon said: “On 1 October 2015 I collected a shared pool car owned and maintained by Dyfed-Powys Police from the Force’s Headquarters. Before driving the car I did not check the condition of the tyres. The next day whilst I was driving the car there was a blow-out of a tyre.

“On subsequent examination the car was found to have two tyres that did not have sufficient tread to comply with the requirements of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations.

“I’m judged by the same laws as everyone else. I should have checked the tyres before using this shared car. I committed two offences of using a motor vehicle with defective tyres and I will accept the penalties imposed.”

Swansea magistrates fined Salmon £586, with £114 costs and three penalty points on his licence.

Dedicated traffic cops on UK roads fall by 27%

There are 27% fewer traffic cops on our roads compared to 2010

Dedicated traffic cops on UK roads fall by 27%

The number of dedicated roads policing officers on UK roads fell by 27% between 2010 and 2015, new data released by the Home Office reveals.

The data shows that, outside London, there were 3,901 traffic officers on the roads last year – 1,437 fewer than in 2010.

That number dropped by 352 between 2014 and 2015, with West Yorkshire accounting for a reduction of 91 specialist officers.

The RAC’s head of external affairs Pete Williams said: “Overall, these figures make for grim reading and are likely to be met with dismay by law-abiding motorists.

“While some of the numbers may be explained by organisational changes, such as officers taking on multiple roles and police forces working in partnership to tackle crime, the data still clearly shows that a majority of forces have seen a further fall in the number of officers whose primary responsibility is tackling crime on our roads.”

Avon and Somerset witnessed a fall of 34 traffic officers (a 35% drop) in 2015, while Northamptonshire saw traffic cop numbers fall by 36% (21 officers).

Interestingly, Essex claimed a near-doubling of officers (up 72 to 148 officers) – presumably explaining why the area boasts the most careless driving convictions – while Devon and Cornwall reported 31 more officers (up from 57) and Cheshire 30 more (up from 89).

A recent RAC Report on Motoring found that enforcement of the law and the behaviour of other motorists are two of the biggest concerns among drivers. 62% said there are not enough police on the roads to enforce existing laws.

Williams added: “These findings also beg the question whether forces are increasingly turning to technology to enforce the law. Fixed speed cameras are a common sight on many roads, including on the hundreds of miles of highway being upgraded to smart motorways.

“The majority of motoring laws that exist to make our roads safer still rely on a physical officer present to either apply the law, or deter drivers from committing an offence in the first place.”

Recent new laws such as a ban on smoking in cars containing children and instant penalties for lane-hogging cannot be policed using technology such as roadside cameras.

Vauxhall Corsa

Vauxhall helps police in ‘Corsa cannibals’ covert operation

Vauxhall CorsaVauxhall has supplied Bedfordshire Police with vehicles carrying covert surveillance equipment in a bid to catch so-called ‘Corsa cannibals’.

A high number of Vauxhall’s popular Corsa and Astra models have been targeted by criminals who steal parts from them before selling them online.

In some cases, owners have reported finding the entire front ends of their cars stolen under the cover of darkness.

Pair arrested for selling stolen classic Mini parts on eBay

Since December, Bedfordshire Police say 22 people have been arrested in relation to thefts of Vauxhall Corsa parts.

In December, a 26-year-old man was charged with handling stolen goods after being linked to a stolen Astra in Luton.

Bedfordshire Police Detective Chief Inspector Ian Middleton said: “We are making significant progress with the assistance of Vauxhall and the use of technology to tackle this prolific problem in Bedfordshire.

“Regrettably the popularity of Vauxhall cars and their Corsa models in particular means that there is still a strong market for stolen vehicle parts and we continue to experience offending. Our message remains the same: We need people to tell us where the outlets for these components are, and I would urge the public only to buy vehicle components from certified vehicle parts stockists.

“We want to increase awareness among the public of these crimes and encourage them to report any illegal or suspicious activity, in order to help us catch those responsible and cut off the practice at its roots.”

Last month, two criminals were arrested for stealing classic Minis across the South East and breaking them for parts, before selling them on eBay.

Alfa Romeo Giulia QV

Call the Carabinieri! Meet the Alfa Romeo Giulia cop car

Alfa Romeo Giulia QV

Crime fighter

Thinking of robbing a bank? As anyone who has watched The Godfather trilogy will tell you, crime doesn’t pay especially in Italy, where the police have just taken delivery of two Alfa Romeo Giulia QV high-speed pursuit cars.

Alfa Romeo Giulia QVRear-view killer

Painted in traditional Carabinieri dark blue and red, the QV will look pretty menacing in the mirrors of any fleeing villains. That supersized Alfa grille isn’t exactly subtle either. All the better to feed the QV’s hungry twin-turbo V6…

Alfa Romeo Giulia QV510 Italian stallions

The QV (or Quadrifoglio Verde – ‘green cloverleaf’ in English) is the flagship of Alfa’s new Giulia range. It packs a 510hp 2.9-litre V6 and rear-wheel drive. Which makes it… rather rapid.

Alfa Romeo Giulia QVIn hot pursuit

On the tail of Don Corleone, the Giulia will hit 62mph in just 3.9 seconds – quicker than a Porsche 911 Carrera S. A top speed of 190mph should come in useful if The Family head for the autostrada.

Alfa Romeo Giulia QVOld-school cool

Inside, the Giulia’s plush, leather-lined cabin gains extra equipment for police use, including cameras, a tablet computer for the front passenger and a radio that looks like an old-school car phone.

Alfa Romeo Giulia QVChasing the Germans

From here, the rozzers can take down your details while admiring the Giuilia’s sporty red stitching and carbon fibre trim. It certainly looks like Alfa has upped its game in terms of build quality. Should be Germans be worried?

Alfa Romeo Giulia QVStealing some lolly?

The Alfa’s specially-adapted door panel features a Carabinieri lollipop holder and a rather meaty-looking truncheon. As an actress said to a bishop…

Alfa Romeo Giulia QVSuper saloon

The Giulia will take on rivals such as the BMW M3, Mercedes-AMG C63 and forthcoming Audi RS4. With claimed 50/50 weight distribution, it promises to be a formidable performance car.

Alfa Romeo Giulia QVKing of the ’Ring

Hammering home those performance credentials, Alfa has quoted a Nurburgring lap time of seven minutes 39 seconds for the Giulia QV – a record for a four-door saloon car. Unless the thieves are in a Ferrari, they don’t stand a chance.

Alfa Romeo Giulia QVTo protect and serve

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (the conglomerate that owns Alfa Romeo) has agreed to deliver 800 vehicles to the Italian police in 2016. The fleet will include Fiat Pandas, Alfa Romeo Giuliettas and Jeep Renegades – but only two Giulia QVs.

Alfa Romeo Giulia QVMarking the occasion

The pomp-filled handover of the cars was attended by police chiefs and Alfa Romeo boss, Sergio Marchionne. Alfa also brought along a classic 1970s Giulia Super police car.

Police fail to investigate 30,000 car thefts a year

Police fail to investigate 30,000 car thefts a year

Police fail to investigate 30,000 car thefts a year

Police budget cuts are leading to a quarter of stolen cars not being investigated, according to figures revealed this morning.

A series of Freedom of Information requests by anti-fraud specialists Asset Protection Unit (APU) discovered that, out of the estimated 117,000 cars stolen a year, 59,000 are never recovered – and half of these aren’t even investigated.


Read more:

Police admit to hiding speed cameras in tractors

Strict enforcement of 70mph limit could fund police officers

Police forced to respond to 999 calls in Vauxhall Corsas without sirens


The company says that businesses are hardest hit, as police will often classify the taking of fleet or courtesy cars as a civil matter and won’t open a case.

APU’s director of investigative services, Neil Thomas, said: “If a vehicle owned by a business rather than an individual – such as a fleet vehicle or garage courtesy car – goes missing, frequently the police tend to consider it a civil crime because the business has effectively allowed someone the use of that car.

“Increasing pressure on police forces in the form of budget cuts and overstretched resources means not enough time can be dedicated to the investigation and retrieval of stolen vehicles.

“But it isn’t just companies that are affected by the findings of our study – a proportion of those thefts not looked into will be private car owners too.”

Last year, an HMIC report revealed that police failed to attend a quarter of vehicle theft-related crimes the year before.