Home Secretary backs police tactics to tackle moped criminals

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Sajid Javid has backed police over controversial new tactics for stopping moped-riding criminals.

The Home Secretary rejected criticism from Labour, saying “risk-assessed tactical contact” is “exactly what we need”.

Scotland Yard last week released dramatic footage showing police vehicles knocking suspects off their scooters.

Senior officers defended the use of “tactical contact”, saying it was needed to stop dangerous chases and has helped reduce moped-enabled crime in London by over a third.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott raised concerns about the approach.

She said: “Knocking people off bikes is potentially very dangerous. It shouldn’t be legal for anyone. Police are not above the law.”

A Labour spokesman said: “Major operational changes by the police that affect public and police officer safety need to have clear oversight and follow due process, especially where there is a potential impact for legal ramifications.”

But Mr Javid, who revealed in June that his phone was taken in a moped mugging before he became Home Secretary, disputed Ms Abbott’s assessment.

He wrote on Twitter: “Risk-assessed tactical contact is exactly what we need. Criminals are not above the law.”

Releasing the footage on Friday, the Metropolitan Police said it shows the tactics that specially-trained drivers are able to use to reduce the need for pursuits and prevent injury occurring to offenders and members of the public.

Force chiefs said there is no maximum speed for police cars to hit mopeds, and that it is a common misconception among moped thieves that officers will end their pursuit if the suspect drives dangerously or removes their helmet.

The disclosures also prompted questions over protection for police if a suspect is seriously injured in a stop.

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, raised concerns that officers using the tactic could be risking their “livelihood and liberty”.

Efforts to tackle offenders riding motorcycles and mopeds have come under the spotlight following a spike in incidents in recent years, particularly in London.

Scotland Yard said moped crime can happen “at any time of the day or night”, with some criminals stealing up to 30 phones in an hour.

Victims are often targeted as they come out of Tube stations or transport hubs.

As part of the crackdown, the Met also uses DNA forensic tagging and automatic tyre deflation devices.

Latest figures show 12,419 moped offences were recorded across the capital from January to October – a 36% fall compared with the equivalent period of 2017.

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