Moped crime: Theresa May backs Met police’s ram tactic

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Media captionThe Met said drivers aim to end pursuits before riders or members of the public are injured

Theresa May has backed “robust” police tactics for dealing with criminals who use mopeds to commit crimes such as snatching bags or phones.

Footage of police ramming vehicles into scooters to knock off suspects provoked controversy, with the Met Police saying two thieves had broken bones.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct has said it is investigating three cases of “tactical contact”.

But when asked about the approach, the PM said it was “absolutely right”.

“These people on these mopeds are acting unlawfully and committing crimes and I think it’s absolutely right that we see a robust police response to that,” she said, when asked about the issue during her trip to the G20 summit in Argentina.

“Moped crime has been an issue of concern for some time now, as it has been growing in certain areas, in particular in London.”

Senior officers defended the tactic after releasing footage of incidents involving specially-trained drivers, saying it was needed to stop dangerous chases and had helped reduce moped-enabled crime in London by over a third.

But Labour has raised concerns about the approach, which MP Diane Abbott said earlier this week was “potentially very dangerous”.

“It shouldn’t be legal for anyone,” tweeted the shadow home secretary. “Police are not above the law.”

Sajid Javid, who revealed in June that his phone was taken in a moped mugging before he became home secretary, challenged Ms Abbott’s view.

“Risk-assessed tactical contact is exactly what we need,” he tweeted. “Criminals are not above the law.”

However, the Metropolitan Police Federation – which represents rank-and-file officers – have warned that officers could be risking their “livelihood and liberty” by using the tactic.

Legislation was necessary to ensure police officers were not prosecuted “for doing their job”, it argued.

The Metropolitan Police has 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.

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

Latest figures show 12,419 moped offences were recorded across the capital between January and October, according to the Press Association, down 36% on the equivalent period of 2017.

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