The Metropolitan Police have announced this week that they will be introducing new drastic tactics to fight a moped crime-wave that is currently being felt in the capital and in cities across the country.
The largest police force in the UK announced yesterday that it will be giving Officers more powers when chasing criminals riding motorcycles and less responsibilities for injuries caused to criminals in the event of a police chase.
The new tactics, which includes relaxing on the regulations around “tactical contact” – a tactic of intentionally ramming criminal vehicles to either create a controlled crash or in the case of motorcycles – disrupt the balance of the occupants to make them fall off their vehicle. Automatic tire deflation devices and DNA tagging are also directly aimed at stopping crimes involving mopeds.
In 2017 it was revealed that offences involving the use of motorcycles had increase from 827 offences in 2012 to over 23,000 in 2016, an increase of over 2,600% in just 5 years.
It was also found that 40% of these offences were recorded in just two inner-London boroughs: Camden and Islington.
Several high-profile robberies involving mopeds were also reported, such as the comedian Michael McIntyre, who was robbed outside his children’s school, and an armed robbery of a popular London Jewellery store.
The current Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, even confessed to being a victim of a moped mugging outside Euston Station in London mid-last year.
While the controlled ramming of criminal vehicles by police officers is not a new tactic, it was more commonly employed by veteran drivers and was not something officially condoned by police, and injury of the occupants arising from the ramming was a grey area legally.
Previously, police officers were also hesitant to ram motorcycles where the occupants were visibly seen to not be wearing protective helmets due to the risk of injury of the criminals in the event of a tactical contact- a hesitation that many criminal gangs have taken advantage of in the past.
The tactic will now be opened up and responsibilities placed on officers over injuries sustained by criminals relaxed. It’ll be employed widely in the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Venice, a team specially set up last year to combat motorcycle gangs in London.
In the past few months since Operation Venice was established, London has seen a 36% reduction in moped crimes, with the reduction expected to continue further next year.
On its own, these new tactics and regulations employed by the Metropolitan Police may seem like a measured response to a costly epidemic of violent crime faced by law enforcement in the capital in recent years. However, the new regulations appear indicative of a drastic change in Police culture and it’s role in society, pushed by an increasingly cost-effective focused government and a media focusing more on statistics as an indicator of police performance. This could also be a sign that increasingly overburdened and under-funded law enforcement institutions have began to move towards more militant methods of catching criminals and keep up with performance targets and a greater focus on lowering reported crime, instead of keeping the public safe.