‘Tactical contact’: Police shown ramming cars into moped criminals in video footage of new strategy

‘There is a perception that if you remove your helmet we will not take any further course of action. This is untrue’

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Friday 23 November 2018 15:55
Met release video montage showing police driver tactics used to tackle moped and motorcycle crimes

Police have released dramatic footage showing officers ramming cars into criminals riding mopeds and sending them tumbling into the road.

Scotland Yard said the newly adopted “tactical contact” strategy is in widespread use in London after a rise in robberies, phone snatches and acid attacks using scooters.

Moped-enabled crime has plummeted by 36 per cent in the capital year-on-year since the methods were rolled out.

Officers feared being jailed or sacked if moped riders were injured during high-speed chases in the past, while criminals have taken their helmets off in the belief it will prevent a pursuit.

But the government has backed new legal protections for officers, and the Metropolitan Police said it targets moped criminals “even when they ride dangerously, discard their helmets and disguise themselves in the belief that this will prevent pursuit and their capture”.

A spokesperson for the Met said “Scorpion” drivers are specially trained to use tactics that “prevent injury occurring to offenders and other people”.

One video shows a police car mounting a pavement as a moped speeds in the other direction and smashes into the bonnet, sending the rider into the road.

Other clips show scooters being rammed from behind or forced off the road.

A still from footage showing a police car in ‘tactical contact’ with a moped rider (Metropolitan Police)

Targeted riders can be seen getting up or even running from the collisions, and police say any incidents that cause injury are referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

Officers hope the footage will show the “hardline approach” they are prepared to take against criminals using motorbikes, and make potential offenders think twice.

The past two years have seen a dramatic increase in the use of scooters for a range of crimes, including smash-and-grab raids, armed robbery and phone snatches seeing individual criminals swipe up to 30 phones an hour in London.

People are frequently targeted as they come out of Tube stations, while thieves also snatch handbags, high-value watches and other items.

Police drivers in London have been trained to engage with moped criminals

Among the victims have been comedian Michael McIntyre, who had his watch stolen by hammer-wielding moped robbers who smashed his car windows as he waited to pick up his children from school earlier this year.

Sajid Javid said he was the victim of a moped mugging before becoming home secretary.

Many of the attacks in London have targeted delivery drivers, with the aim of stealing their mopeds, including a spate of acid attacks.

Jabed Hussain, the first of five victims attacked in just 90 minutes by moped riders last year, told The Independent that many stolen scooters or number plates were later used to commit crimes or rack up speeding tickets traced back to the original victims, adding: “You’re the victim but they think you’re a criminal.”

Victims of moped attacks have called on authorities to prevent criminals using the vehicles with “impunity”, but identifying suspects has been made difficult by the wearing of helmets, masks and gloves.

The Metropolitan Police is using “DNA spray” to mark them with invisible dye that can place riders or bikes at the scene of a crime, and they have equipment to puncture tyres.

Mohammad Khaleghi was covered with DNA spray

From January to October 2017, there were 19,455 moped-enabled offences across London, and this figure was reduced by 36 per cent to 12,419 offences in the same period this year.

Met Police Commander Amanda Pearson said Scotland Yard was “not complacent”.

“Operation Venice is multifaceted, and we can call on all manner of tactics from an experienced investigation team to police helicopters to tackle and arrest offenders,” she added.

“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.

”The public quite rightly expects us to intervene to keep London safe. Our highly trained police drivers weigh up the risks and decide upon the most appropriate tactics in those circumstances.

“Offenders on mopeds and motorcycles who attempt to evade the police are making a choice that puts themselves and others at risk.

“So our message is clear: we can, we will and we do target those involved in moped and motorcycle crime at every opportunity.”

Update: A previous version of this story stated that moped-enabled offences had reduced by 44 per cent year on year. The figure was changed to 36 per cent following a correction to figures released by the Metropolitan Police