Life on bikes

Only 0.28% of moped-enabled crimes result in a police pursuit

Figures from one of the UK’s worst-affected boroughs for moped-enabled crime reveal criminals are unlikely to be involved in a police pursuit.

A Freedom of Information request has found that only 15% of driver requests for a police pursuit were authorised in the London Borough of Islington in 2017, despite it being one of the country’s most affected areas for moped-enabled crime. Out of 65 requests, 55 were refused permission by a Pursuit Commander.

More shockingly, in just nine months in the same year, there were 3,587 reports of moped-enabled crime in the same borough. It means a criminal has a less than 0.28% chance of being involved in a police pursuit. That figure will be even lower when figures for the whole year are obtained.

As revealed by one of the borough’s local newspapers, the Islington Tribune the figures also show a downward appetite for pursuits year on year. In 2016 there were 37 requests made by officers, with 13 being authorised. This represents 35.14%, meaning there has been a significant drop in the chances of an authorisation.


A Met Police spokesman responded to the figures by stating that the police were using other methods to try and reduce the epidemic levels of moped crime on London’s streets. “Just because we are not riding around in fast cars behind them doesn’t mean we are not pursuing the criminal.” Supt Mark Payne, head of London’s dedicated motorcycle crime unit, Operation Venice, told the Tribune.

“We use DNA. If we have got their face, we do facial recognition. It may well be that we break off a pursuit because we think we have the evidence.”

The Met uses its databases of known criminals to pursue the matter when there is less danger to the public. “We know who you are and there’s no point taking that pursuit any further today. We’ll go and bang on your door at 2 am tomorrow when we know we can get you in bed.”

While the strategy makes sense from a public safety perspective, the suspicion is that Supt Payne and his colleagues in boroughs across the country are glossing over the real issue, which is the lack of suitably-trained police available to conduct pursuits.


As Biker & Bike has said before, we believe the real deterrent for criminals will be dedicated teams of 5-6 officers on highly manoeuvrable bikes, constantly patrolling moped-enabled crime hotspots. We’d like to see stop and search implemented to see how many times knives, hammers, angle-grinders and even acid sprays are found.

moped theft tactical deterrent
© Met Police. The Met’s new team for dealing with moped gangs

Since late October, Islington and neighbouring borough Camden have had smaller-sized tactical teams on patrol, using BMW 800 GS bikes and, anecdotally at least, they are a visible deterrent. Biker and Bike’s Editor, Ian Malone: “I live in the borough and I would sometimes see a ‘TMAX gang’ as many as three-four times a week. There have been far fewer sightings over the winter months – that could be down to the weather – but in the same period I have seen the dedicated tactical team at least six times. In fact, only this morning, I saw a three-man team, full-on blues and twos, steaming towards an area where I chased a balaclava-wearing and number plate-less moped rider back in Summer. I’m not actually sure what I’d have done if I caught him”

He added, “The real test is to see the figures post the tactical team deployment. If there has been a significant drop in crimes and increase in pursuits and arrests we’ll know the tactic works and we’d call on all forces in the country to adopt the same methods.”

Get yourself sorted:

Understand how a police ‘Follow’ and a ‘Pursuit’ are very different things when chasing suspects.


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