Another step towards UK roadside evidential breathalysers – £105,000 awarded to winners of MEBTI competition

We are pleased to announce that Lion Laboratories Ltd have been recognised for their excellence and innovation and have demonstrated significant progress towards producing a mobile evidential breath testing instrument, suitable for the police to use at the roadside in the UK.

Stage 2 awards

Lion Laboratories Ltd  convinced the expert technical panel from PACTS, that they were likely to be able to submit instruments for full Home Office type approval in the near future, thus achieving the Stage 2 requirements.

Each year over 240 deaths occur on the UK’s roads involving a driver who is over the legal drink-drive limit. Effective enforcement by the police is crucial in combating this serious crime and loss of life. The breathalysers currently used by police at the roadside are screeners, not evidential. A driver suspected of drink driving must be brought to a police station for an evidential test. Having devices that enable the police to take the evidence at the roadside will increase their efficiency and avoid the risk that a driver might “sober up” before reaching the police station.

PACTS Executive Director David Davies commented, “As a result of a grant from the Department for Transport, PACTS has been able to run the MEBTI (mobile evidential breath testing instruments) competition which is incentivising companies to develop products to meet the exacting technical and legal requirements of Home Office type approval. These awards of £52,500 each, to two UK-based companies, are rewards for the substantial R&D investment to date, and assistance with the further costs that will be involved.”

He added, “We are still probably 18 months or more away from these being available to the police but that important date seems to be drawing closer.” 

Geraint Roberts, Technical Director, Lion Laboratories said, “There were many technical challenges to overcome in the development of a suitably compliant mobile evidential instrument, to meet the demanding requirements of the UK specification. We continue with our project and look ahead to the next stage of the process, submitting the product for Home Office type approval. We were delighted to receive the additional funding from the PACTS Competition which will assist in the costs associated with the addition of our instrument to the scope of our existing UKAS accreditation. The funding also provides support for our ongoing R&D projects and the next generation instruments.”

The PACTS MEBTI competition

The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) was awarded a grant by the Secretary of State for Transport to run a competition to encourage the development of mobile evidential breath testing instruments (sometimes referred to as roadside evidential breathalysers) which meet Home Office type approval requirements.

The competition aims to result in one or more type approved instruments which can be operated by police forces throughout the UK by October 2021. It involves three stages with up to £350,000 awarded in total to one or more manufacturers over the three stages.

This competition is entirely additional to the routine procedures for gaining type approval. It is intended to provide an additional incentive to companies to develop MEBTI instruments. It does not alter the routine procedures in any way and companies may proceeded with the routine procedures quite independently of the PACTS MEBTI competition and timetable if they wish.

Stage 1 of the competition was designed to incentivise companies to develop instruments that would achieve type approval during the timescale of the competition. Two companies, which included Lion Laboratories Ltd were awarded of grants of £70,000 each.

Stage 2 of the competition was divided into two parts. Part 1 invited companies to submit manufactured instruments for police user trial. Part 2 invited companies to submit innovative proposals which demonstrated significant wider applicability, portability, cost savings to the users, or other such advantages. Two companies, which included Lion Laboratories Ltd submitted bids for, respectively, Parts 1 and 2, and each was awarded a grant of £52,500.

Stage 3 – criteria for awards

Stage 3 of the competition will invite applicants to submit manufactured instruments for consideration for type approval. The original intention was for this stage of the competition to be completed by 1st October 2020, with instruments submitted by 1st August, with an award of up to £105,000. In view of the current situation with Coronavirus, and its impact on both government and manufacturers, this timetable will be extended. A further announcement about this will be made, provisionally in July 2020.

Further information

This competition is entirely additional to the police field trials and type approval procedures operated by Dstl for the Home Office. It is not a part of type approval and does not affect those normal procedures. Companies are welcome to submit bids for competition grants but there is no requirement to do so. They should proceed with type approval procedures as normal.

For information on Stage 1, see http://www.pacts.org.uk/2018/06/mebti-competition/

For information on Stage 2, see http://www.pacts.org.uk/2019/03/another-step-towards-roadside-evidential-breathalysers-mebti-competition-stage-2/

For information on Stage 3, please contact PACTS – David Davies, Executive Director david.davies@pacts.org.uk 020 7222 7732

Information source for this NEWS release – PACTS website – http://www.pacts.org.uk/

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