London

Police rules on moped chases 'create highwaymen'

Moped drivers holding up pedestrians Image copyright Metropolitan Police
Image caption Current rules are creating a generation of moped "highwaymen" in London according to one former police officer.

Police in London are too afraid to pursue suspected criminals on mopeds without helmets, according to a union.

Ken Marsh, Chair of the Met Police Federation, said officers are not protected against repercussions if they put anyone in danger.

But the Met Police said officers "can and will" carry out pursuits if they assess that it is safe to do so.

A former policeman said current rules are leading to the return of "highwaymen" in the capital.

Mark Wilsmore, who now owns a bikers cafe in north London, said: "We're going back to the 18th Century.

"We've got roving bands of thieving nasty people who have no concern about any enforcement."

Image caption Ken Marsh said currently officers could be held responsible if an alleged criminal dies during a pursuit

Mr Marsh said currently officers could be held responsible if an alleged criminal dies or is injured during a pursuit.

"We want to do everything we can to catch the perpetrators on mopeds" he said.

"But we want to do that in a safe manner and knowing that when we do it, should something happen, we have the full support and protection from the government and public."

'Ensure safety'

On Monday, a 16-year-old died after the moped he was on collided with a police car.

The teenager was travelling with two others on the vehicle as he was pursued by police in a car and helicopter in Wimbledon.

The police watchdog is investigating.

A 15-year-old he was travelling with has been arrested. He remains in custody at a south London police station.

In a statement, the force said it would "undertake pursuits in any situation where it is necessary to do so".

"However, we must first ensure the safety of our officers, the public and the suspect when bringing offenders to justice."

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