Crime comes in various forms and it is important that individuals, businesses and premises take the appropriate measures to stay protected. Taking advantage of security services in London means that you can minimise the risk of becoming a victim. One of the crimes that has rapidly increased particularly in London over the past few years has been moped gang crime.
Over the past year, police in London were called on average more than 430 times per week to crimes committed using mopeds. The epidemic of moped crime has been growing in recent years and, with a number of high-profile incidents occurring, such as the robbery of Michael McIntyre by a hammer-wielding moped gang, it continues to hit national headlines.
In recent weeks, moped crime has been hitting the headlines for another reason, how should it be tackled? Up until the end of last year, police were reluctant to chase criminals on mopeds due to the fear that they could be prosecuted and convicted if there were any injuries to the criminals during a pursuit.
One of the tactics that has attracted national headlines is ‘tactical contact’ which involves using police cars to knock suspects off their mopeds. Videos have been shared widely online of suspected criminals being knocked off their bikes and being sprawled across the road and it has caused mixed reactions. The police officers using these tactics are called Scorpion drivers and have been specially trained to knock suspects off their mopeds in a way that is intended to cause minimal if no injuries.
London has seen a stark rise in crimes committed on mopeds in recent years, specifically a rise in robberies, phone snatches and acid attacks. Pedestrians that aren’t alert to their surroundings make themselves easy targets for these criminals. It is all too easy for them to snatch a phone out of somebody’s phone, and then make a quick getaway by weaving through heavy traffic.
Worryingly, statistics showed that in 2017, more than 97% of London’s moped criminals escape justice. Something more had to be done, and the fear and uncertainty that police officers faced about the consequences associated with pursuing a suspect had to be addressed. Previously, police had been using slimmer-framed and more manoeuvrable motorbikes that are easier to drive through narrow streets.
The Met said the new, hard line tactics, including tactical contact and DNA spray have reduced moped crime by 36% year on year, so there is certainly an argument that these measures are helping to tackle the crime, which has plagued the capital for years on a huge scale.
However, since police officers have been using tactical contact, questions have been raised as to whether this is putting police officers in a dangerous position where they are risking their ‘liberty and livelihoods’. Current legislation states that any motorist can be prosecuted for careless or dangerous driving. This applies equally to the emergency services and ordinary members of the public who have not been trained in police driving tactics and advanced training.
The Police Federation have announced that although they are in favour of these tougher measures, they are also very aware that it breaches current legislation and that there needs to be better protection for officers that pursue a suspected moped criminal.
Proposals made to the Home Office in May argued that in the event of an incident, police officers should be subject to separate tests and investigation when determining if they should face criminal action and conviction. Although tricky to define, having separate policies in place could mean that police officers are no longer reluctant to use force when necessary when they are simply doing their job and trying to capture and detain criminals.
However, there has been an argument put forward that although the moped gangs are suspected criminals, we should not justify tactical contact as the correct way to tackle the epidemic. And, although they are criminals, they are sill people, fellow human beings, who deserve a fair trial and not a potential attempt on their life.
In many countries, police shoot suspected criminals, in others, police completely rule society. Even though this deeply problematic form of crime, which often involves serious violence to victims is very difficult to tackle, should we be resorting to violence ourselves and putting peoples lives in danger? The UK has a strong sense of law and order, however there must be more discussions going forward to ensure we deal with this epidemic in the best and most effective way.
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