MOTORISTS WHO want to hire cars will undergo criminal record checks for the first time to try to stop would-be terrorists from using vehicles as weapons.
Europcar, the biggest car-hire company in Europe, is reported to be considering introducing the checks from the end of this year.
Rental vehicles were used by terrorists to cause 14 deaths and injuries to almost 90 other people at Westminster, London Bridge and Finsbury Park between March and June last year.
Khalid Masood, 52, used a hired 4×4 to kill four people on Westminster Bridge on March 22 before he stabbed PC Keith Palmer to death outside the Houses of Parliament. Khuram Butt, the ringleader of the London Bridge attack in June, tried and failed to hire a 7.5 tonne lorry and instead resorted to a van, which was driven into pedestrians.
Darren Osborne, 48, is serving a life sentence for driving a hired van into Muslim worshippers on June 19 in Finsbury Park, north London, killing one.
Both Masood and Osborne had criminal records and Butt, 27, had a caution for assault.
Until now it has been possible to hire a vehicle by holding the relevant licence and providing personal details. Companies’ hire rules vary depending on age and driving experience.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Europcar, which hires out its fleet of 60,000 cars and vans in the UK to more than a million motorists a year, would also check customers against a terrorist economic sanctions list maintained by the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. Their names would also be checked against an anti-fraud database.
Europcar said it reviewed its hire checks continually and added: “Europcar takes the matter of security very seriously and, as such, is in regular conversations with national and international trade associations to ensure it applies the most appropriate measures.”
After the London Bridge attack, Cressida Dick, commissioner of the Metropolitan police, suggested that hiring a van might need to be regulated. She said that the Met was asking companies to be vigilant.
This article first appeared in The Times