Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Support for police use of tactical contact

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has issued guidance to “support” the tactic of knocking moped thieves off their motorbikes as a “legitimate use of force” for officers with specialist training.

The IOPC said the tactic ensured that “any dangerous situations created by police pursuits are brought to an end as swiftly as possible”.

The new guidance covers use of alternative tactics, weighing up the severity of the suspected offence, and the likelihood of causing injury to the riders, others and themselves, the IOPC said. It also reinforces that the use of the tactic must be authorised.

The manoeuvre was launched by the Metropolitan Police in 2018 amid efforts to tackle offenders riding motorcycles and mopeds.

But others raised questions about the rights of the suspect, and the protection for officers involved in tactical contact.

Jonathan Green, IOPC deputy director general, said: “The new guidance helps officers weigh up the risks in fast-moving situations so that they can carry out stops effectively, and at the same time offers reassurance to the public that the tactic is used as safely and proportionately as possible.”

The guidance was based on five IOPC investigations. One was a misconduct meeting where a Met police officer knocked a teenager on a stolen moped unconscious after using his car to halt him. The IOPC decided action was needed on his justification.

Another required training on how to write up notes to justify use of force after the officer, who was not trained in tactical pursuit, stopped a man going at speeds of up to 80mph. The rider who collided with a lamp post suffered a broken leg.

Others were justified in his action after a moped driven by a 14-year-old mounted a pavement, and another was cleared because all other tactics to stop a 15-year-old on a moped had failed.

A Bill in the Queen’s Speech gives police more protection to pursue criminals on mopeds through a new legal test that assesses their actions against that of a highly trained driver, rather than, as now, what might be expected if it was a member of the public driving at such speeds.

The tactical contact policy has brought about a sharp reduction in moped-enabled crime.


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