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Met chief orders probe into car safety fears

A Metropolitan police chief has ordered the first inquiry into improperly repaired ultra high strength steel (UHSS) components in modern cars leading to road accidents.

Commander Shabir Hussain has asked his accident investigators to look out for evidence that the failure of incorrectly repaired ultra high strength and boron steel components have contributed to road accidents.

His action follows a meeting with bodyshop industry campaigner John Dwyer, a former assistant chief constable of Cheshire constabulary.

“I am delighted with Commander Hussain’s decision to take this matter seriously and order an inquiry so promptly,” said Dwyer following the meeting. “I approached the Commander in his capacity as a representative of the Association of Chief Police Officers because I believed it was important our police forces were made aware of this issue.

“That is why I invited David Cresswell, chairman of the Auto Body Professionals Club and Neil Kirk, MD of Howard Basford, Britain’s largest privately owned accident repair group, to join me at the meeting.

“I wanted to ensure Commander Hussain could access their knowledge of the body repair industry, should it have been required.”

Dwyer launched the campaign last year after learning that repairs to UHSS and Boron Steel components – found in the majority of modern cars - required completely different welding equipment to that operated by the majority of body shops.

“Welding experts have informed me that welds created with the wrong type of equipment would fail in the event of a subsequent accident and could even come apart from normal road vibration,” recalled Dwyer. “Therefore it seems clear to me that we could have many thousands of people driving on our roads in vehicles that are unsafe.

“It beggars belief that this situation has not caused road accidents involving serious injury and deaths in recent years. However, there is no evidence of this because accident investigators have been unaware of the problem.”

Kirk welcomed the Commander’s investigation and added: “This issue is about the repair industry keeping up with technological innovation from the motor manufacturers. The driving public must be assured that the repair industry is properly equipped and trained to conduct safe and effective repairs to their vehicles.”

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