Moped Crimes In The UK - The Tip of the Iceberg Mocking Policing Power
If you’re a viewer of such TV programmes as Police Interceptors and the like, you’ll have seen the variety of crimes that are committed across the country, with none more “modern” and cowardly as acts of theft and violence committed with the aide of mopeds (typically stolen themselves); small, easily ditched, and hard to pursue vehicles, that allow the criminals to quickly commit crimes, and (with equal haste), easily get away from the crime scene.
Often those driving do not even stop to commit some crimes, as seen with “hit-and-run” thefts of mobile phones, and bags, taken directly from the victims hands. Figures show thefts involving mopeds are partly behind the largest increase in police-recorded crime in ten years, with statistics released by the ONS for England and Wales showing that (in the previous year up to March 2017), there was a 10 per cent rise, and other statistics show that moped-related crimes in London has increased by 1,600% over just the last five years.
So what can be done by the public to combat the chances of falling victim to crimes and thefts involving mopeds? Trying to face a foundation of the crime, owners of mopeds need to properly (erring on the side of caution), protect and secure their mopeds in all situations. This may seem a simple and almost “default” thing to do with regards to owning a two-wheeled vehicle (moped, scooter, motorcycle), but recent results from a MCRG (Motorcycle Crime Reduction Group) survey of the security of 193 two-wheelers parked in London (undertaken earlier in 2017), showed 50.4% of scooters viewed were parked without any locks at all, and only 15% of those with a chain or lock were attached to a metal ground anchor point. So it doesn’t seem to be such a common, “default” thing to be done, and with a sizeable volume of moped-related crimes reportedly being committed on stolen moped vehicles, having owners being more vigilant with the security of their vehicles will make a change (and for one's own benefit, will deter thieves from initially stealing your prized moped!). This guide from the Metropolitan Police provides advice on methods to help protect your moped/scooter/motorcycle, and deter thieves.
For members of the general public, as simple as it seems (and maybe redundant in saying), being aware of your surroundings when partaking in day-to-day actions, such as: using mobile devices, checking through your wallet/purse, and when carrying a handbag/shoulder bag, will always give you the upper hand in most situations, and keeping a firm (possibly two-handed grip) when using devices such as a phone will help provide more security. Of course, unfortunately, some crimes against the public undertaken by criminals escalate further than just theft, with acid attacks becoming more prominent (especially in the media) and being commonly associated with moped crimes. This would be where the public would hope the police would be able to combat the problem head-on, but it seems various political aspects (legislation, regulations, rights, rules), are a cause of friction against common sense, with individual police officers barring the brunt - and potential consequences (as shall be exampled in the following paragraphs).
Police efforts to catch criminals involved in moped-related crimes primarily focus on CCTV and DNA evidence as their main tools against the fight, with fingerprints and DNA often being left on internal parts that are not usually touched, and partial CCTV images can be pieced together to get a recognition of individuals. Direct pursuit of suspects is a more challenging topic for Police, with the MET having to following national police guidelines on pursuits, which states officers have to make a “dynamic risk assessment” of whether the suspect or the public might be injured during a chase or not.
That sounds fair enough and the correct thing to do, but it’s a system that constrains the police in certain instances, and one that criminals find ways to utilise and work around to their advantage. As an example, in December 2014, 18-year-old Henry Hicks unfortunately died when his moped crashed whilst being pursued by police. Following the incident, the Independent Police Complaints Commission decided that four officers involved should face gross misconduct charges, which could ultimately result in them being removed from their uniformed roles. Although this sounds the logical end to the incident, it sets a precedence where if an officer is pursuing two young individuals on a moped, and one of them may remove their crash helmet, the officers involved would have to call off the pursuit for the safety of the criminals. Something not so logical and fair to one's mind.
Of course, I’m not saying the MET should have carte blanche to run people over (unlike other jurisdictions of America, where it has been reported, alongside other extreme measures), but instating clear guidelines saying that no action will be taken against an officer who pursues someone who is not wearing a crash helmet - by their own decision/action - would seem logical.
It seems the issue of dealing with moped crimes (focusing on solely that point, although there are issues with rules and law involving other aspects of crime, that equally impede police efficiency), is not something that can be sorted quickly. Gerry Campbell (a former Scotland Yard Detective Chief Superintendent), has publicly stated the law needs to change to allow police to tackle this (moped crimes) properly, telling LBC: "These brazen, barbaric and cowardly attacks cannot and must not be tolerated...
But this is not a job for just law enforcement. The Crown Prosecution Service, Ministry for Justice, Home Office all have to get involved.”
Yet, when more departments get involved (especially in the conversation of "delicate" and controversial political issues), that means ultimately, more time is added before the issue sees any resolution.