The Daily Telegraph
Police take to three wheels to get a grip on emissions
World first as force uses electric tricycles that reach speeds of 95mph and cut carbon output by half
A BRITISH police force will become the first in the world to pursue criminals using eco-friendly electric tricycles.
Northamptonshire Police has added 12 petrol-hybrid Yamahas to its fleet of fuel-powered vehicles. The trikes have been hollowed out so they are ultralightweight, with a top speed of 95mph.
Each bike weighs 293kg, which is about 70kg lighter than normal police motorcycles. The £14,000 vehicles can last up to six hours – or around 100 miles – on one battery charge.
As they are three-wheeled vehicles, they can be ridden by officers who have a driving licence for a car.
Neighbourhood policing teams are to use the vehicles around Northamptonshire with a view to them being introduced across the UK.
Nick Adderley, the chief constable of Northamptonshire, said: “You will not see these machines anywhere else in the world.”
He said that as the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for motorcycling, he had been working with a local company, White Motorcycle Concepts, to design the vehicles.
“It addresses the green agenda that all emergency services are dealing with right now,” he said. “We are the world’s first in terms of getting this machine running.
“In terms of police forces using this bike, the aerodynamics and the engineering that has gone into it has not been seen anywhere in the world.”
Mr Adderley said the reason the trikes were hollowed out was to allow air to pass through the machine rather than around it.
“The ‘venturi’ – the tunnel through the middle – makes the bike incredibly efficient due to superior aerodynamics
‘Transport infrastructure is changing and we need to ensure we are prepared with a sustainable fleet’
and it is a very nippy bike as well,” he said. “The transport infrastructure is changing for everyone, and we need to ensure we are prepared for the future with a sustainable fleet that not only meets the green agenda but also enables us to deliver the policing service our communities need and want.”
The trikes can run on detachable batteries or be charged from normal plug points, and will reduce carbon emissions by up to 50 per cent.
The WMC300FR model electric trikes can also come with a 300cc petrol engine.
Robert White, founder of White Motorcycle Concepts, said the battery charge could last longer if used for shorter journeys.
He said: “If they are used in the city centre at a lower speed, you could get around four to six hours out of them, but if they are used more aggressively then the lowest they would go to is about two and a half hours. I believe they plan to take on a further 12 vehicles by Christmas and then lease them out to other forces around the country as a trial.
“If police officers are there on a fleet which is green and helping to push towards meeting the new green agenda, then I think that is a real positive thing.”
It might for some have been a disappointment to learn that the trikes brought into operation by Northamptonshire Police are not the pedalled three-wheelers familiar from childhood. Those had two wheels at the back. The police machines have two at the front, cleverly tilting (like ill-starred West Coast trains) to help them go around corners. More importantly, their electric motors allow speeds of 95mph. There has been some ill-founded criticism of the force for letting faster criminals escape. But the first duty of police is not to chase crooks at high speeds, but to prevent crime and find the criminals. The greenness of the tricycles is also welcome but subsidiary to their chief value. Trikes allow officers to get out and know their patch without the temptation in a patrol car to pull into a layby and chat over a takeaway.