Suspects on motorcycles 'removing helmets' to avoid arrest

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Media captionOfficers "rarely chase" helmet-less riders because if they fall off they may die, a Met Police email said

Suspects fleeing police on motorcycles and mopeds in London are routinely avoiding arrest by removing their crash helmets, it has emerged.

In an email sent to the BBC in error, the Met Police revealed many suspects take off their helmets when riding away from officers in pursuit.

Officers "rarely chase" helmetless riders because there is a likelihood they will die if they fall, it said.

The Met said it had a "moral duty" to protect the public and offenders.

'Impossible to stop'

In the message, a member of the force's staff said moped and motorcycle riding suspects were "pretty much impossible to stop".

"They use these vehicles because they can go through pedestrian/baby buggy barriers," the staff member said.

"Many now take their helmets off when riding away from police so we stop immediately".

In response, Det Supt Raffaele D'orsi said: "We have a moral duty and actually a mandate as police officers to protect the public, that includes offenders who are trying to escape from us.

"We have to mitigate the risk so if an offender isn't wearing a helmet that will be factored in."

A Freedom of Information request revealed there were 1,240 crimes in London where suspects rode mopeds or motorbikes in a 12-month period up to February 2015 .

Reece Leon Robinson-Webber, 15, from Streatham, was killed in West Norwood, Lambeth, when the moped he was riding crashed during a police chase in August 2008.

Following his death, a report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it had "overall concerns about the standard of training made available to officers and staff in relation to motorcycle pursuits".

The watchdog said the Met's approach was inconsistent with police pursuit guidelines, and made a number of recommendations which have since been implemented by the force.

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