140mph chase was ‘safe’

Published: 08 October 2008

A shocking video has shown an unmarked police motorcycle hitting 96mph in 30mph zone with no siren or emergency lights.

Police says the deadly tactic was necessary to ‘gather evidence’ on speeding rider Michael James Collins, 22, from Beckenham, Kent.

The video, shot from the police bike, shows a 15 minute high-speed pursuit on rural and urban roads. At one stage the police rider reaches 107mph in a 40mph zone.
In his efforts to keep up with Collins, the officer also takes a series of massive risks, overtaking in the face of oncoming traffic and narrowly avoiding a head-on crash with another bike. 

Meanwhile, with nothing to indicate the mystery rider tailing him for miles is a police officer, Collins reaches 140mph in what could be an attempt to shake his pursuer off. 

After all the risk Collins was only arrested later, at a bike dealership in Kent.
Magistrates handed him a two-year suspended jail sentence and riding ban and 240 hours' unpaid work.

Sussex Police claimed it was safe for an unmarked police bike to travel at 96mph in a 30mph zone with siren and flashing lights off.

The force said in a statement: ‘Mr Collins was arrested following numerous complaints from residents in Hastings and drivers on the A21, who reported a motorcyclist riding dangerously and at excessive speed on a daily basis.

‘The method of riding was considered so extreme by investigating officers from the Sussex Road Policing Unit that normal stopping procedures were not considered appropriate. Instead, the rider was safely tracked using unmarked cars and an unmarked motorcycle in order to gather evidence to support a prosecution. Having risk-assessed the intelligence relating to the rider there was also a possibility that the rider would try and evade police if a stop was attempted.’

Supt Steve Barry, the force’s head of road policing, admitted there was enough evidence to charge Collins without the 15-minute chase, since he hit 100mph in a 60 zone within minutes of the tape rolling. But he said: “I think the court wanted to see the full extent of the seriousness of the riding behaviour and that was the reason we prolonged the evidence-gathering stage.” 

To read why police didn't have to follow official guidelines on pursuits, get MCN, on sale October 15.

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