Moped theft continues to be a menace, especially in London. I have written before about how the police are constrained in chasing thieves who are not wearing helmets. This is because of the health and safety guidance regarding a “pursuit policy”. However, for policing to be effective the police officers need to be trusted to make their own best judgment.

For the Conservatives it must be central to our mission to maintain law and order. Delivery drivers are having acid thrown in the faces then the attackers are using the stolen mopeds to make their get away and use the vehicles to undertake further crime. Giving the police the power they need is an important test for the Government.

We certainly can’t rely on Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, to take a strong line on this. Tony Devenish, the London Assembly member for London West Central, asked the Mayor to give a clear message. But the response was equivocation and waffle.

Here are Devenish’s questions and the Mayor’s response:

Tony Devenish:

Do you believe that the current Metropolitan Police ‘pursuit policy’ that stops the police from chasing moped thieves who aren’t wearing helmets is unacceptable?

Written response from the Mayor:

MPS policy – in line with nationally approved guidance – does not preclude a pursuit from continuing when a rider or pillion removes their helmet.  It also does not preclude tactical contact.

When in pursuit, officers, their tactical advisors and the senior officer in charge must constantly review the risk posed by continuing, balanced against the type of criminality under consideration and the risk posed to all road users.

It is important that officers feel confident and able to take appropriate action when pursuing suspects on mopeds.  It is also important that the law and any guidelines protect and do not hinder the police.

Tony Devenish:

Do you accept that the Metropolitan Police is not forced to follow NPCC guidance with regards moped pursuits and, in this case, should cease doing so?

Written response from the Mayor:

It is correct to state that National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) guidance is just that and as such carries no requirement or sanction for any force that chooses to vary local practices.

Operational policy regarding moped pursuit is a matter for the Met to determine.

Tony Devenish:

Do you agree with the Police Federation that “the current legislation leaves police drivers vulnerable” during moped pursuits as “it is illegal to engage in pursuit or response drives” without specialist training? Should the law be strengthened to ensure the police are able to pursue suspects vigorously?

Written response from the Mayor:

I am aware of the view of the Police Federation.

It is important that the law and any guidelines protect and not hinder the police in their vital role of keeping Londoners safer.

Any representations for a change in the law would be listened to and supported if they will better protect and support police officers in tackling moped crime.”

I am no great fan of the Police Federation but in this case their request is valid. We need to back police officers who chase moped thieves. The police need to be empowered to get on with that task with the confidence that they have the authority to do so. The law needs to make that very clear.