MCN readers have come out in force to support the work of the Metropolitan Police, who have begun knocking moped criminals off their bikes during pursuits.
Although helping to account for a sizeable reduction in moped-related incidents in the capital, the move has been criticised by some, including Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, Diane Abbott, who took to Twitter to say: "Knocking people off bikes is potentially very dangerous. It shouldn't be legal for anyone. Police are not above the law."
She was quickly responded to by Camden Police, who said: "Someone who's responsible for law-making (or at least debating and ratifying new legislation) should probably realise that using tactical contact to terminate dangerous pursuits is entirely within our lawful power... And our responsibility."
In an online poll published by MCN on Tuesday 27 November, 98.44% of respondents (5861 people) agreed that this tactic is the only way to end this issue on London’s streets, with just 93 people feeling that the act was wrong, as it could injure somebody in the process.
According to year-on-year figures released by the Met in a statement, moped crime statistics from January to October 2017 showed a recorded 19,455 offences across London - considerably more than the same period in 2018, when there were 12,419 offences (7036 fewer).
Representing a fall of 36%, the same trends are visible when looking at the statistics surrounding the theft of mopeds in the city. Figures from January to October 2017 show 12,192 offences across London, compared to 8261 (3931 fewer) across the first 10 months of this year - a reduction of 32%.
Often operating as part of larger organised criminal gangs, the riders have been known to attack members of the public with hammers, machetes and crowbars, mount pavements to steal phones, watches and bags and use mopeds as battering rams to break into shops. They will also throw acid in riders’ faces to steal mopeds, potentially causing life-changing injuries.
In October 2017, MCN reported of how a gang of four thieves, who used mopeds to enable their crime spree of more than 100 robberies in a period of less than three weeks, were jailed for a combined total of over 18 years.
Committing 83 offences between April 18 and May 5 in Westminster in 2017, the armed group rode around London looking for victims carrying items of value, before snatching the goods and occasionally threatening the unsuspecting bystanders with a hammer and metal bar.
Backed by the Prime Minister
Despite some criticism, there has been an overarching support for the police tactics, including backing from Prime Minister Theresa May, who said the tactics were "absolutely right" when questioned at the G20 summit in Argentina.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan also added on Twitter: "Moped crime has no place on our streets. Our Met police officers use a range of skills and tactics to pursue offenders and make arrests that lead to convictions - resulting in a significant reduction in this type of crime."
This is supported too by a number of sporting personalities, including two-time British Superstock champion, Danny Buchan, who said: "This is how you need to treat these people. Maybe if they thought they would get rammed by a car for a £200 ped they wouldn't do it. Also you should be doing the same with these stabbings, with heavier sentences for people carrying knives."
Former professional rugby player, Andrew Hazell, also responded to Diane Abbott’s comments and said: "Hi Diane, I know numbers aren’t your strong point but this tactic has reduced moped crime by 35%, which means more innocent people are safe on the streets. By stopping this you will increase crime again. How is that a good thing. What are your suggestions?"
Officer under investigation
With the debate for riders’ safety in full-swing, news emerged earlier this week from a number of outlets that an officer is currently being investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct for a tactical stop carried out against a 17-year-old on 7 November last year.
The boy, who wasn’t wearing a helmet, sustained serious head injuries, before being later discharged. Despite pleading guilty to five offences at youth court, including theft, dangerous driving, and driving without a licence, the officer in question may now face charges including actual bodily harm or grievous bodily harm, should the evidence be passed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). A decision is expected imminently.