Moped Justice Part 2: Ramming is justified and long overdue
In Moped Justice Part 2, Biker & Bike Editor Ian Malone argues that the use of aggressive stop tactics is wholly justified and should have been implemented sooner.
See the previous article, Moped Justice Part 1: The police are wrong to ram
It’s fair to say there were raised eyebrows here at B&B towers when Kevin Turner suggested we needed to think again about the new Met Police policy of using ‘ramming’ tactics to bring moped-riding criminals to a stop.
Like 98% of bikers surveyed, many of us in the Biker & Bike family felt the policy was justified. If it had been implemented back in 2014, there would be no moped-enabled crimewave that has seen so many of our bikes stolen and insurance made unaffordable in many postcodes. We shouldn’t have to ride in fear of a bike-jacking. Or of having our motorcycle taken unless we use three-disc locks and a heavyweight chain every time we ride to work or park outside a cafe.
In his article, Kev appreciates his view isn’t going to be popular, but thank God he has the balls to say it anyway because, as bikers, we do need to think about this new policy beyond just saying ‘get in!’ Here’s the thing: He makes some superb, well-considered points, but I can’t agree with him.
How else do we stop them?
You don’t need to be a weepy-eyed liberal or aubergine-munching leftie to see that Diane Abbott has got a point, no matter how unpopular it might be. No motorcycle is worth more than a human life.
But these feral youths – who are prepared to use knives, acid and in one instance a gun to take our bikes from us – they need to be stopped. And how else can you do that when they live in fear of absolutely no one?
I’m old enough to remember a time when The Met had a fearsome reputation, first being bussed-in to wade into Yorkshire’s miners during the infamous strikes of the ’80s, and then personally being on the end of a completely unjustified truncheon attack when walking away from London’s Poll Tax Demo back in 1990. Nobody messed with The Met, period.
That reputation disappeared when The Met had to reign its ’shock and awe’ methods. Bye-bye Special Patrol Group. So I’m not so sure that using ramming and other aggressive stop tactics is a PR stunt, although it’s not escaped my notice that the video footage was released on the same day MP’s were meant to be voting on giving police officers more protection under the law. Maybe it was supposed to be a not-so-subtle call for the rabid right wing to do their duty and make sure the now delayed Emergency Response Drivers (Protections) Bill made it into law?
If it was, it’s a bit over the top. Only an idiot would vote against having the law amended so that police offers are given exemption from prosecution if they have to drive outside the standard of ‘careful and competent’ to stop someone driving dangerously. It never made any sense at all to prosecute an officer under those conditions, but many officers have suffered exactly that fate. Yet one officer is now under threat of investigation following the release of the Met’s video footage last week.
Taking the vote into account, you could see the releasing of the video as being the act of a police force really struggling to deal with an issue – especially so when they police the capital’s 600 square miles with 20,000 fewer officers than a decade ago. Perhaps it’s not The Met waving their wangers around (well, maybe a bit). Maybe, after a long period of being beaten down to servitude by the politicians, it’s actually an act of desperation?
We need the moped-riding criminal rats to live in fear
Perhaps Kev is right and this is also about dishing out punishment. Thanks to an impotent criminal justice system, the fear of incarceration simply does not exist for a moped criminal – we’ve seen them say as much on video. If you are male and under 24 there is very little chance of you receiving a custodial sentence. The criminals know this and exploit the fact to maximum advantage, with some young men being arrested up to 80 times without going to prison.
Is there a fear of injury? Possibly, but when you see the way they ride, weaving in and out of traffic at high speed with no more protection than a pair of chav-approved trainers, you know they perhaps aren’t that bothered about picking up the odd fractured skull or broken foot.
I’m not sure they’re too bothered about death either – I reckon many of them just don’t care. When your own life is so worthless, working out of a sink estate for a gang leader who barely knows your name, many of them would arguably welcome an easy out from their shitty lives.
Fear of embarrassment, that’s another matter. Showing off stealing a high-end Ducati is almost a badge of honour for these people. Being shown up by someone who is clearly a more skilled driver than them isn’t something they want spread around Snapchat. Remember ‘Omar’ and his ’nee-nar’ antics? I bet he wouldn’t be so keen on releasing videos of himself being pranged up the arse by a blue and white Three Series.
I don’t see this as the police handing out on-street punishment. Instead, I see it as the Met introducing fear. And I need thieves to be afraid of something because their actions mean I’m forced to live in fear.
Thanks to the current situation, I cannot leave my ride outside my home. I cannot get insurance that would permit it, so I have to leave my bike in a lock-up garage four miles from my house. And every time I get the train up there and approach the row of garages I have to deal with the idea that my lock-up’s door will have been ripped open. I should not have to live with that fear. I should be able to park outside my home without worrying about some criminal helping themselves to the motorcycle I work so long and so hard to pay for.
So, to me, ramming is entirely justifiable if it ensures that a good number of these pitiful ball sacks realise the game is now up. If they still can’t figure out how to make a decent living without simply taking from others then at least they now know there’s a good chance a well-trained copper can make a complete tit out of them, as we saw in the recent videos. Once I’d picked my jaw up off the floor after watching the videos for the first time, I actually had jaw-ache from laughing so much at some of the comedy falls. The one where the scrote is literally flung forwards waving his arms in the air still has me in stitches. The Met has made these guys a laughing stock – that alone is a brilliant new police tactic and if its cheap PR, it worked.
It won’t be used on ordinary bikers
I don’t share Kev’s fear that the tactics will be used on ordinary bikers. I have said elsewhere that we need to be careful that aggressive tactics are also used against ordinary ‘naughty’ bikers. Despite evidence to the contrary, police say the use of lethal force stingers is reserved for use only against criminals. But as the Southend Stinger showed, some officers didn’t get the message.
But ramming is different. Your bog-standard Old Bill isn’t going to be anywhere near a Tactical Stop, as it’s known in the police. Only very highly trained ’Scorpion’ drivers are authorised to use the ramming tactic, and they must get authorisation from a senior officer before deploying. The decision is never made lightly. Thanks to the fear of prosecution following an IPCC (sorry IOPC as it now is) investigation, all of the officers involved in requesting and authorising the decision use the tactic only as a last resort, to prevent the fear of injury to the public.
Where I completely agree with Kev is the root cause of the situation – “This is a problem that has its roots buried deep in a society that is failing itself and is being failed by consecutive governments…”
I actually am a genuine weepy-eyed liberal. I live close to some of the estates where these guys live and, thanks to having two children growing up in inner-city London, I’m painfully aware of the gang culture that is driving many of their crimes. I both despise them but understand why many of them are trapped in their life of crime, with few other life options available to them. In the absence of any real Government conviction to deal with the gangs I can tell you right now there is no quick or one-time fix, so the situation will continue for some time.
Thanks to social media it will continue to spread, too. The deep and dark ‘drill’ videos that come out of my local estates are emulated in the country’s bigger cities. Bragging about the size of your weapons and the flash bikes and cars used to carry them around is going to continue, even if the more threatening posts about promised stabbings and shootings are being clamped down on.
Until you deal with this glamourised gang culture (and I include here the so-called ‘repo gangs’) that simply doesn’t give a fuck about anything other than looking good and making money, then I don’t think police forces have much choice but to use tactics like ramming. We have long argued only specialist patrol teams of four to six so-called moped bashers will effectively end moped-enabled crime, but that takes money. And the bankers still have all of that.
Motorcycle theft isn’t going to go away. It’s too valuable an income stream for the seriously organised crime gangs behind it. But we can stop the recent explosion caused by letting the lowest of the low, the foot or now moped soldiers sent out by the gang leaders. The estate gangs are just the moped soldiers of larger criminal enterprises who make serious money out of stolen vehicles. The gang leaders behind that trade are not going to go away, but their troops may refuse to go out on the streets if they know they could wake up in hospital with a broken leg and an even more damaged reputation.
Like Kev, I have a healthy dose of ‘are you sure about that?’ over the Met’s figures around Operation Venice. What I can say is that anecdotally, living in one of the country’s worst affected areas, I have noticed that I see these guys on scooters far less often. Last year it would be weekly. Now it is every few months.
Ramming is only one technique Operation Venice uses and it is hard to say whether it is this or some of the other approaches that may be reducing the level of moped-related crimes. I absolutely do share Kev’s concern about the police being given the power to doll out instant justice on the streets, but I don’t believe that is what’s happening, just yet.
As long as only highly trained, fully authorised officers conduct them and only when no other options are available, then I say yes, ramming has to continue. But for God’s sake MP’s, get your shit together and give the men and women that have to do it the proper legal protection they deserve. It’s about time you manned up.