Ramming fleeing bikes may seem like excessive force, but the practice has reduced moped crime by 36 percent.
Moped and scooter gangs have been the scourge of London for some time now. The vehicles' small size and superior maneuverability through congested areas have made them quite attractive to criminals to make a quick getaway after a robbery or stealing someone else's bike. Police have taken measures to combat this crime more effectively, such as putting cops on scooters and using spike strips, but still innocent riders have to fend for themselves. London cops have stepped up their game once again by being willing and able to ram fleeing bikes.
American police will typically avoid tactics like ramming, or even spike strips, when pursuing motorcycles to prevent the rider from getting hurt or killed. For once, London police are taking a more aggressive approach than America in the interest of ending pursuits more quickly and reducing danger to the public. Knowing that they could be rammed off the road seems to be having the desired effect of deterring thieves from committing these crimes in the first place. Bike crime in general is down 36 percent over last year, according to the Metropolitan Police, while moped theft is down 32 percent.
"The Met is at the forefront of tackling moped and motorcycle crime and I am pleased to see that we have seen a reduction in offenses," Commander Amanda Pearson of Frontline Policing said in a statement. "However, we are not complacent and we will continue to work tirelessly across London to maintain this downward trend."
Not everyone believes these aggressive tactics are justified, though. Diane Abbott, the Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, spoke out against the practice on Twitter. Police departments were quick to defend their actions, however.
"Someone who's responsible for law-making (or at least debating and ratifying new legislation) should probably realize that using tactical contact to terminate dangerous pursuits is entirely within our lawful power, and our responsibility," said a spokeman for Camden Police.
"To mitigate risk to the public and also offenders, we use a range of tactics including tactical contact. There has been a significant reduction in motorcycle and scooter crime with a decrease of 10,974 offenses to date this year in comparison to 2017," added a spokeman from Waltham Forest police.
The strongarmed tactics remain controversial, but if the replies to Abbott's tweet are any indication, the public as well as police support these aggressive measures in the name of public safety.