Drivers could face airline-style advanced identity checks before they are able to hire cars in the wake of terrorist attacks using vehicles as deadly weapons.
Industry leaders and senior police officers have been in talks about how to bring tighter controls on access to hire vehicles in the wake of atrocities on mainland Europe and in the UK.
Ideas under discussion include motorists having to provide personal details in advance so the information can be checked against security databases.
A similar system is already used for air travel where passengers must provide certain personal details before a trip.
Westminster attacker Khalid Masood used a hired 4×4 Hyundai to mow down a string of innocent people on March 22 last year, before stabbing to death unarmed police officer Keith Palmer near the Houses of Parliament.
The terror attacks in London Bridge and Finsbury Park later in the year also involved the use of hired vehicles.
One of the country’s leading counter-terrorism police officers Detective Chief Superintendent Scott Wilson said: “One of the areas we are looking at after the attacks in the UK last year is how we can heighten the security of hiring vehicles.
“We are looking at how we can share data better between the police and that industry, in the way that we do in the airline industry.”
Former terror laws watchdog Lord Carlile called for identity checks to be brought in for motorists hiring vehicles in the wake of the van attack on pedestrians in Barcelona last year.
He welcomed the idea of airline-style checks, saying it would be “easy to administer”. He added: “It would require proof of identity, and hopefully a watch list system.”
British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) chief executive Gerry Keaney said any proposal would need to comply with data protection laws and be usable by a range of different companies.
He said: “Rental companies already run security checks on customers to confirm they are who they say they are, that they can pay for their hire and that they are licensed to drive that particular type of vehicle.
“BVRLA members also have the benefit of being able to cross-reference their bookings or reservations against the association’s Rental Industry Secure Customers database (RISC), which provides a list of ‘problem customers’.
“We continue to work with law enforcement organisations and the government to explore ways of sharing information in a more timely and effective way. Any solution needs to be data protection compliant and capable of being used by a wide variety of different rental companies with different business models and reservation systems.”
Counter-terrorism police chiefs have been in discussions with a raft of industry leaders for some time to come up with joint ideas on how to combat terrorism.
They cover crowded places such as football stadiums; international travel; domestic transport including roads and rail; and cyber and finance.
It is expected that within the next year a range of proposals from across those industries will be passed on to the Government for consideration.