'Ghostbusters-style' devices could be given to police

By John Mercury May 17, 2024

Police officers could be equipped with devices likened to the proton packs used in Ghostbusters to stop e-bikes and e-scooters being used for crime.

Gavin Stephens, the chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), said he hopes the “experimental” technology could help stop the vehicles involved in offences such as street robberies and mobile phone thefts.

Described as a “ginormous backpack”, the gadget has drawn comparisons with the capture device used in the Ghostbusters films.

It works by firing an electromagnetic pulse at an e-bike or e-scooter in the line of sight, sending a signal to confuse the electric motor into thinking it’s overheating.

The motor, which has an in-built safety system, then shuts down, bringing the vehicle to a halt.

The device was demonstrated to police at a science and technology fair in Farnborough, Hampshire, earlier this year but is unlikely to be available for use for months or even years.

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Mr Stephens said he has been told the device “has the potential to be useful with normal combustion engine vehicles as well”.

Paul Taylor, the NPCC’s chief scientific adviser, is overseeing the project with industry figures to make the kit available for use by police officers.

Mr Stephens said the popularity of the vehicles has changed the nature of police pursuits, with “lightning-fast electric bikes around town and city centres” making them “really difficult”.

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He said the devices are “the sort of new tech that we need”, adding: “It basically interferes with the electric motor to trick the electric motor to think it’s overheating and that goes through a safe shutdown procedure.”

“At the minute it’s like a great, big ginormous backpack-type thing, because it’s basically a battle of how much power they can get.”

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