Text message technology could soon be used by the authorities to stop car-thieves in their tracks.
According to reports, the Home Office is currently trialing technology that could enable police to control stolen cars using text message.
Should it be deemed successful, police would have the power to stop cars remotely, providing an alternative to the use of more crude vehicle-capturing techniques such as stingers, and reducing the need for high speed car chases.
This trial forms just part of the Home Office’s effort to reduce the number of civilian and police deaths resulting from high speed pursuits; they have also appealed to a number of independent companies for suggestions as to other ‘vehicle stopping' technologies that could be implemented on a wide scale basis.
A spokesperson for the Home Office commented: "If new technology can help police stop vehicles more safely and more effectively then it is right that we look at all the options carefully.
"We have asked companies to propose possible electronic solutions and we will be in a position to say more once all the options have been properly tested and fully evaluated."
The text-message technology being trialed is similar to so-called “intelligent transport systems” already available to the public.
Cars would be fitted with a receiver which can be located via satellite navigation and then, if the vehicle is stolen or used in a crime, used to take control of the vehicle.
Using text message technology to communicate with the vehicle's on-board computer, police would be able to sound the car’s horn, flash the headlights, slow its traveling speed and, once the car became stationary, immobilise it completely.
Speaking on behalf of the Police Federation, Alan Jones commented: "If the police service can use technology to its benefit to improve policing and ensure it is far safer for both police officers and members of the public, then ultimately we should applaud those developments.
"We also recognise that it is sensitive area and we need to have a proper debate and discussion about where it may go."
It is not yet clear when the Home Office will announce the results of these trials and, if deemed successful, exactly how this technology would be implemented.