London's MET Police consider tougher tactics for moped crime

After a round of scooter gang robberies, London's Met are working on tougher tactics to catch scooter criminals.

Speaking to the Guardian, Chief Superintendent Peter Ayling said the Met is considering new tactics, including chasing suspects with additional covert and marked vehicles.

Police currently need special permission and training to pursue criminals on scooters because they may ride recklessly to evade capture, putting themselves and the public in danger of serious injury.

The Met are hoping to get around this by deploying more covert officers in London, both on foot and in unmarked vehicles, with drivers being trained to a high enough standard that they can give chase if approval is granted.

There were over 11,000 scooter related crimes last year, and there's an increasing trend for violence as criminals mount the pavement to mow down victims and use weapons including hammers and knives to steal items such as phones, wallets and watches.

It's this threat of violence which is bringing the issue to light. The rise in scooter-enabled crimes, that often involves snatching phones is thought to be related to thieves finding it easier to bypass security on stolen phones, making them easier to sell on.

Bike theft continues to rise with these numbers as gangs increasingly steal bikes to use for criminal activity.

Visor Down spoke to Dr Ken German, ex-head of the now disbanded Met police stolen vehicle squad and a man who holds a doctorate in International Vehicle Crime, to find out how motorcycle crime in London can be addressed.

‘Half of the reason scooter and motorcycle theft is so high is because the people stealing them aren’t just taking them to break up or sell on, they’re using them for crime. Using a scooter, you can push a motorbike along without its engine running and gang members can easily drive for miles like that.

‘The gangs that are responsible for motorcycle and scooter theft at the moment are organised gangs that deal in all elements of criminal activity. That is, they take part in bike theft, robberies, burglaries, assaults.

Getting on top on this problem won’t just mean targeting the theft element, it will mean dealing with the enormous increasing in these robberies and burglaries. ‘If the police also deal with these crimes and get on top of the gangs, I’m sure bike theft will start to decrease.’