Support considered for police in bike crime battle
New rules are being considered in a bid to stop gangs using motorcycles as getaway vehicles
Laws are to be reviewed in response to concerns that the police are struggling to effectively pursue and apprehend criminals on often stolen bikes.
Bike-related crime has risen threefold in the past 12 months, with much of this crime concentrated in London where gangs use bikes as getaway vehicles. It is believed that one of the reasons for this increase is that police officers are reluctant to give chase because the current law leaves them open to persecution in the same way as ordinary road users.
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The concerns are in response to the death of 18-year-old Henry Hicks in 2014, who lost control of his moped while being pursued by two unmarked police cars. The four officers who were part of the chase now face gross misconduct hearings in relation to his death. This has led to a spate of criminals riding without helmets, knowing that the risk of the pursuit dissuades officers from giving chase for fear of losing their jobs (or worse) should something go wrong.
Despite the Home Office insisting that there is no ban on police chases, they have announced a review that will consider whether police officers should be given greater legal protection from prosecution, as well as an update on pursuit guidance.
However, while this may sound like progress, the Home Office has not announced a timeline for when this will happen.
Bike crime in the UK
London has the largest problem with bike crime in the UK by far. Between July 2016 and June 2017 there were 14,943 thefts of "powered two-wheel vehicles", which accounted for 50% of all vehicles stolen in London –it's a massive 30% increase on the previous year. According to the Motorcycle Industry Association, 60% of all recorded bike thefts in the UK were in London last year .
The Metropolitan Police launched Operation Venice to tackle powered-two-wheeler crime in the capital. Speaking to MCN, Director of Media and Communication at the Metropolitan Police Service, Mark Ottowell, said: "Operation Venice officers conduct targeted operations throughout London to prevent and detect moped theft.
"The operations include mass checks on stationary and moving powered two wheelers, raids on individuals suspected of stealing motorcycles and mopeds or using them to commit crimes, high visibility patrols in key areas, Automatic Number Plate Reader deployments and provision of free locks to owners at motorcycle parking bays."
Recently a Sheffield MP also called for police to be given more powers to pursue bike thieves.