Police moped crime tactics risk young lives, campaigners warn

By Gabriella Jozwiak

| 26 November 2018

New police tactics to prevent moped-related crime that includes knocking juvenile drivers off motorcycles have been criticised as dangerous by an expert in state-related deaths.

The Met Police are ramming moped drivers in an effort to catch suspected thieves

A video released by the Metropolitan Police (Met) showing officers in patrol cars pursuing moped drivers and knocking them to the ground has provoked concerns that children will be killed as under-18s are frequently involved in such crime.

Teenager Henry Hicks lost control of his moped and died trying to get away from police pursuing him in 2014.

Subsequently police followed restrictions on pursuits, especially if drivers removed their helmets.

However, the Met has changed its stance saying police will use "all manner of tactics" to tackle and arrest offenders.

Commander Amanda Pearson of Frontline Policing said: "There is a perception that if you remove your helmet or fail to stop for police when requested to do so we will not take any further course of action. This is untrue.

"Our highly-trained police drivers weigh up the risks and decide upon the most appropriate tactics in those circumstances."

Inquest policy and communications officer Lucy McKay, whose charity provides expertise on state-related deaths and was involved in the Henry Hicks case, said the measures would "cause far more harm than they prevent and make everyone less safe".

"As a society we must ask ourselves: is the possible seizure of mobile phones or handbags worth risking so many lives?" she said.

"Dangerous pursuit practices by the police have the potential to hurt and kill both those who are being pursued and the general public.

"Young children and families have died in collisions caused by police pursuit, as well as numerous teenagers and adults on mopeds."

The Met announced that specially-trained drivers would reduce the need for pursuits and prevent injury occurring to offenders and members of the public. 

Other tactics include DNA forensic tagging by spraying criminals, and the use of automatic tyre deflation devices. 

The Met also said year-on-year figures showed moped theft in London had fallen by 36 per cent from 19,455 offences in January 2017 to October 2017 to 12,419 offences in January 2018 to October 2018 - 7,036 fewer offences.

It is unclear how many of these involved children. However, in 2017, the Met released statistics that showed children as young as 10 were involved in moped crime.

In 2015, Superintendent Mark Payne told the Evening Standard the police did not need to chase suspects if they removed their helmets. 

He said: "If a rider takes his helmet off, that's a result for us. They will drive past five or six CCTV cameras and we will have his face. We know who they are and there is no point in pursuing them. 

"We will bang on their door at 3am when it is low risk, why should we bother chasing them through the streets of London?"

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