Ramming speed, officer!
November 24, 2018 7:38 AM   Subscribe

Met police driving cars into thieves on mopeds in crime crackdown — To reduce moped crime, London police use tougher tactics including marking spray, remote-controlled spikes to burst bike tyres, and ramming suspects' bikes [The Guardian, 11/24/2018].
posted by cenoxo (145 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
shit, that's awful
posted by entropone at 8:08 AM on November 24, 2018


I kept waiting for the part where they mention deaths, or injuries, then I got to 'minimize prosecution,' and after a bit more it just ends.

The way this article is written is...
I'm trying to find the word.

Oh. Yes. "Horrifying."
posted by ®@ at 8:23 AM on November 24, 2018 [9 favorites]


Officers had been reluctant to chase mopeds, some driven at high speed by suspects as young as 14, amid fears of injury or death.

“Consequently, the Met has told its officers to stop considering the risk of injury or death in their decision making.”
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:26 AM on November 24, 2018 [11 favorites]


Policies were drawn up using legal experts to minimise the chances of officers being prosecuted for using the technique, which was introduced in October 2017.

This is the most important aspect of the new tactic, I’m sure.

I mean, if I understand this, the specific crime is grabbing pedestrians’ phones from a scooter st speed, which is also not safe, but being proud of hitting kids on scooters with cars is.... well, horrifying, even if, apparently, legally defensible.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:31 AM on November 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


Expected Daily Mail headline:

MOPED THUGS FACE VEHICULAR JUSTICE
not many killed
posted by delfin at 8:31 AM on November 24, 2018 [7 favorites]


No, the most common crime is theft of phones, but "moped crime" is not limited to them and it also includes more violent assaults.
posted by samastur at 8:45 AM on November 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


So, what I’m hearing is that, after the massive police cuts of the past decade, this is very much a “good things” story that offsets pretty much every professional cop person saying “we do not have enough cops”.

These moped crimes have the potential for violence very easily, and difficult to stop after the event without some level of contact. The kids doing it are desperate and often quite fucked by the system.

Of course, the answer is to invest in social connection and make sure these people can have a stake in society. But for a Tory party in the UK, that’s a vote loser: better to be swingeing with the cuts, and sort out the wreckage later. If that includes some smashed up chavs on a moped… well, there’s the NHS. For now.
posted by The River Ivel at 8:53 AM on November 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


As much as ACAB, it’s got to be viewed in the context of the thieves being absolutely brazen and robbing lots of people all day every day. I’ve personally witnessed one handbag snatch and a couple of phone grabbings right in front of me, as well as seen them openly prowling neighbourhoods.

The same people have also stormed into cafes and grabbed laptops out of people’s hands, and pushed people off expensive bikes and taken them.

If anyone has any better ideas how they should be tackling this, please do suggest them.
posted by grahamparks at 8:54 AM on November 24, 2018 [39 favorites]


It's a good job the police never misuse their powers and lie about it afterwards, otherwise this would look like a really fucking bad idea...
posted by threetwentytwo at 9:05 AM on November 24, 2018 [22 favorites]


Driving a car into a moped that somebody is on is attempted murder, full stop, and should be prosecuted as such.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:11 AM on November 24, 2018 [31 favorites]


A special team called Scorpion drivers have been trained in tactical contact.

You know you have a problem when the police give themselves a nickname like that. Also, Mario Kart isn't a police training simulator.
posted by peeedro at 9:13 AM on November 24, 2018 [24 favorites]


When the police are cut back to a point where they can no longer safely police certain areas as they have been in the UK, this sort of stupid and dangerous tactic is inevitable. If the police were properly funded so that they had a presence in all areas...

Police cutbacks are clearly in the background but the idea that the police ever have the numbers to have a presence "in all areas" is a fantasy: Policing pretty much depends on the vast majority of people being peaceful the vast majority of the time.
posted by pharm at 9:19 AM on November 24, 2018 [16 favorites]


The thing that has changed policy on this is the rising number of acid attacks, thefts and knife attacks carried out on Mopeds. The previous policy of not pursuing any bike where the rider didnt have a helmet resulted in, you guessed it - more riders not wearing a helmet.

The new policy is the result of a detailed risk assessment, and while there will inevitably be some innocent victims, the overall level of carnage should be lower. The police don't have an enviable task in trying to manage this.
posted by Lanark at 9:20 AM on November 24, 2018 [30 favorites]


A society and economy that doesn't make people desperate enough to resort to nicking phones and laptops would be a good start.

Yeah, because all criminals are desperate and not just trying to make a quick quid...

I have watched the video and they are all pretty minor take downs, in my opinion. Crime stopping has to react to people playing the system like 'taking the helmets off = no chasing'. Crime needs stopping, and it seems entirely hand wringing to me to be all "if only we could address this as a social issue". Should we do that ALSO? Sure. But the popularity of this kind of crime has risen because lots of people were getting away with it not because of sudden social standing poverty. It became a lower risk/higher reward criminal activity and there are people that consider this a viable income stream. They are called criminals. Not everyone is forced into that mindset by circumstances.
posted by Brockles at 9:20 AM on November 24, 2018 [45 favorites]


The thing that has changed policy on this is the rising number of acid attacks

Every part of this is horrifying, but can someone explain what in the actual fuck this is about?
posted by schadenfrau at 9:36 AM on November 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


You can agree that theft should be policed without agreeing that RAMMING A HUMAN BEING WITH A CAR is totally fucking fine and dandy. What the hell??
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:37 AM on November 24, 2018 [18 favorites]


Dashcam videos of modped criminals being rammed creates the illusion of "doing something" on a wider scale than the actual "doing" itself, which doesn't minimize what is a legitimate problem.

It seems they stripped panniers off some police motorcycles to increase their maneuverability in an urban environment, but maybe it's time to give the police...mopeds? Having the authorization to ram a vehicle that can easily zip off where a car can't go to begin with seems like a moot point, almost.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:37 AM on November 24, 2018 [8 favorites]


>I have watched the video and they are all pretty minor take downs, in my opinion.

Did we watch the same video?
posted by panhopticon at 9:39 AM on November 24, 2018


Sinead O’Connor singing about this in 1990.

“These are dangerous days
To say what you feel is to dig your own grave
Remember what I told you
If you were of the world they would love you
England's not the mythical land of Madame George and roses
It's the home of police who kill Black boys on mopeds

And I love my boy and that's why I'm leaving
I don't want him to be aware that there's
Any such thing as grieving”
posted by nikaspark at 9:39 AM on November 24, 2018 [28 favorites]


Like I want to say hey maybe enact policies that don’t involve a large underclass living in desperate poverty while aware that the government regards them as less than human and below consideration and maybe that will help with the violent theft

This obviously does nothing for fucking acid attakcs? Is this a real epidemic or is it something the Daily Mail and their ilk like to promote for the usual racism related reasons?

But either way: after a Thanksgiving in the presence of a relative who is a walking poster boy for a) how toxic masculinity in law enforcement demands that LEOs dehumanize the people they interact with and b) the things a man does because of that pervasive dehumanization demands further dehumanization in a horrifying feedback loop of trauma and violence, I have to point out: the things you have to do to make sure police officers actually ram other human beings with a fucking car are not modular. You don’t just train people to be violent and dehumanize other humans in an isolated environment. This shit is pervasive.

If you enact a monstrous policy, you are committed to making monsters.

Just look at American policing.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:43 AM on November 24, 2018 [31 favorites]


So the thieves are allowed to go uncaught just because it might hurt them to stop them???
What a pathetic society we are becoming!
If they want to use violent means to steal then they actually deserve violent means to stop them, otherwise we are just encouraging them to continue and even get worse!!
posted by Burn_IT at 9:48 AM on November 24, 2018


Well, no guns, no more problems, right?

They used to carry whistles (and be called bobbies)...
posted by MoTLD at 9:49 AM on November 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


But the popularity of this kind of crime has risen because lots of
people were getting away with it...It became a lower risk/higher reward criminal activity


Yes. And at some point, this new police tactic will result in one of the criminals being killed, and the police officer will face no consequences, and it will become something that more and more officers see as a low (to them) risk/high reward activity...

You see how this slippery slope argument works, right? And maybe the fact that there are lots of examples of how “police use of force” policies have kind of followed this direction and sometimes result in real problems makes this one feel predictable.

I really hope I’m wrong.
posted by nubs at 9:50 AM on November 24, 2018 [5 favorites]


Why not just ban mopeds altogether? They are a) dangerous as fuck to their riders, pedestrians, and other vehicles and b) their 2-stroke engines are more polluting than cars, SUVs, and even some busses/lorries.
I for one would be fine waiting 5 extra minutes for bicycle-delivered pizza if it meant less dead kids on the pavement.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:51 AM on November 24, 2018 [11 favorites]


Did we watch the same video?
Yes we did. The only one that seemed bad to me was the one where the guy brake checked the police car in the middle of the street which.... well that's your own fault then. Playing chicken on a scooter is a lose-lose situation.

You can agree that theft should be policed without agreeing that RAMMING A HUMAN BEING WITH A CAR is totally fucking fine and dandy.

There is a long way from "This is fine and dandy" to "well, this seems to be effective and what other choice to they have?". What is your suggestion for rapidly stopping the pursuit? If it is low enough speed, I see zero issue with this approach to it. The scooter menace in the UK (likely learned from/encouraged by the myriad videos on the internet of these style of crimes) is big enough and the police's lack of ability to address it meant it got very popular very quickly. The fact that allowing a relatively heavy handed approach (witnessed by the 'I didn't think you could do that' response by one of the scooter drivers in another video/article I have seen) has seen such a rapid change in crime numbers means it isn't seen as such an easy and 'untouchable' crime method as it was. A small period of heavy handedness can produce a longer period of preventative caution. As long as the take downs are performed relatively safely (ie below 25mph like all these seem to be, and only on mopeds, not anything faster) then I'm all for it if it directly affects crime numbers like that. If it was having little effect I'd be happy to see it dropped an an alternative method found.

Just look at American policing.
UK policing is about 4 orders of magnitude better in training and mentality than US policing. This is not, by any means, the start of a slippery slope.
posted by Brockles at 9:54 AM on November 24, 2018 [18 favorites]


Why not just ban mopeds altogether?

That's a great argument. By which case all cars should immediately be banned. And hammers. And crow bars. And ski masks. Criminals use them too! Doesn't matter they are perfectly useful tools for the majority!

a) dangerous as fuck to their riders, pedestrians, and other vehicles and b) their 2-stroke engines are more polluting than cars, SUVs, and even some busses/lorries.

They are a low cost, more efficient transportation method and many of them are 4 stroke anyway. They use much less fuel so while they may be per-gallon more polluting, they are not by any means so per mile. Not everyone can afford cars and it has been shown again and again that too many cars is a problem for cities. Mopeds are great for city commuting.
posted by Brockles at 9:58 AM on November 24, 2018 [19 favorites]


London is kinda fucked up structurally. It’s a great city, but damn does that city have some fucking issues to solve.

This will all only get worse once brexit happens.

I say this as someone who loves London a whole lot and has the opportunity to live and work there on a company sponsored visa, but upon multiple visit there for work and serious research and consideration, nah.

(I’d live in Scotland in a second though...)
posted by nikaspark at 10:11 AM on November 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


Every part of this is horrifying, but can someone explain what in the actual fuck this is about?

Industrial-strength acid in a plastic bottle, thrown or squirted in a victim's face, has become increasingly used as a weapon of violence, partly because the acid was easy to get hold of and partly because there was no specific offence of carrying corrosive substances like there is with knives or guns (although the law is being changed to help with that).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:25 AM on November 24, 2018 [8 favorites]


There are ~500 acid attacks annually in London. No idea how many of them are on mopeds.
posted by JPD at 10:27 AM on November 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


So the thieves are allowed to go uncaught just because it might hurt them to stop them???

Yes???

I mean, let's be super clear here: in no remotely humane country would the punishment for theft be death. Additionally, this kind of approach is never fool-proof. There will be civilian casualties, given enough time.

For the same reason I'd rather a robbery suspect get away than the police have carte blanche to open up machine guns on their vehicle (potentially killing them as well as bystanders), I'd rather some asshole on a moped get away with a mobile phone versus police taking actions that could kill the perpetrator, the police, and/or civilians.
posted by tocts at 10:31 AM on November 24, 2018 [39 favorites]


If anyone has any better ideas how they should be tackling this, please do suggest them.

How about... not ramming the kids on mopeds? Giving chase until they stop? Surround them?

Even if they can outrun your car, they can't (as the saying goes) outrun the radio. Have enough officers that you can be present in enough places to cut them off.
posted by Dysk at 10:32 AM on November 24, 2018 [11 favorites]


The previous policy of not pursuing any bike where the rider didnt have a helmet resulted in, you guessed it - more riders not wearing a helmet.

Like, there's a big chasm between "no chasing" and "ram them off their vehicles at speed".
posted by Dysk at 10:33 AM on November 24, 2018 [10 favorites]


Gotta say I'm not having a lot of sympathy for the criminals here. In terms of violence they are reaping what they sow.

Fixing social ills is a long term solution but it doesn't address the fact that regular people are subject to random violence right now. This seems like the worst solution for that, except for all of the non-existent better ones.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:35 AM on November 24, 2018 [12 favorites]


It’s horrifying but not surprising. However, it’s still a bit more civilized than here in the US where these (mostly black in the videos) kids would just be shot in the back. Also a low risk action for the police in the US given the neglible rate of criminal charges and convictions for such a disproportionate response.
posted by sudogeek at 10:35 AM on November 24, 2018 [5 favorites]


Gotta say I'm not having a lot of sympathy for the criminals here. In terms of violence they are reaping what they sow.

Thing is, we all have to deal with the police. This becomes normal, and the rest of us will be reaping violence too, no sowing needed.
posted by Dysk at 10:37 AM on November 24, 2018 [24 favorites]


Well, no guns, no more problems, right?

The cult of Moloch has neither the facts on their side nor the moral and ethical high ground in this discussion.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:47 AM on November 24, 2018 [12 favorites]


Vehicular chases (especially in a dense urban environment) are inherently high risk, with a very real likelihood of the participants and bystanders getting hurt. The longer they go on, the more chance that the guy on the moped hits someone, causes someone to swerve / brake and hit someone else, someone pulls out in front of the police car, etc.

So your choice is either reduce that risk by not chasing at all (in which case, say hello to more violent moped robberies, as we did from 2014) or end the chase as quickly as with as little risk as possible for everyone involved (including bystanders). Knocking the guy off his moped certainly puts him at higher risk of getting hurt, but if that lets you avoid a lengthy high speed pursuit through crowded city streets in an effort to ‘surround him’ (which, if you think about it for half a second, is an exercise in futility when you’re in cars in London traffic trying to stop a moped that can cut between lanes, go on pavements, etc), it’s the least worst and overall lowest risk option in some situations.
posted by inire at 10:47 AM on November 24, 2018 [23 favorites]


Definitely in the long-term social solutions camp - requires a government with a commitment to empathy, compassion & proper resourcing. Not seeing any of that from the Tories, so this is an unsurprising knee-jerk reaction - ignore root cause, go straight to capture & punishment, collect $200 (or votes).

London is also one of the most 'watched' cities in the world - figures of the average Londoner being captured 300 times a day by CCTV. While hoodies/change-of-clothes are an obvious countermeasure, it wouldn't be too hard to find out who these offenders are; unless you're also under-funding the teams that analyse the footage.

Post probably needs a #grimmeathookfuture tag with a dose of Judge Dredd thrown in for good measure.
posted by phigmov at 10:49 AM on November 24, 2018 [7 favorites]


(which, if you think about it for half a second, is an exercise in futility when you’re in cars in London traffic trying to stop a moped that can cut between lanes, go on pavements, etc)

So get out of the fucking cars? The police have bikes. I'm sure they could stretch to some mopeds (or dirtbikes), if it turns out they have some meaningful handling advantage over the bikes the police already have.

Or shit, make use of all the CCTV that's everywhere. Someone running away from you now doesn't have to mean they're getting away with it.

Are these things easy to do? No. No, they are not. But policing is not about taking the easy options. Far easier to just beat a dude up than try and get him prosecuted. Far easier still to just shoot him. Policing has to be about doing the humane thing and the right thing, even when it is hard. That requires investment and manpower, of course. Which is why, after years of austerity, we have the police taking the easy option, and unilaterally enacting avoidable and unnecessary levels of violence. Because it's easier.
posted by Dysk at 10:54 AM on November 24, 2018 [18 favorites]


I hope everyone moralising about this would be happy for these moped thieves to be operating in there area, attacking people all day every day. I’m not happy about it, but less drastic measures were tried and did not work.

And I’m all in on “Fuck the Tories” sentiment, but we didn’t vote for them - Jeremy Corbyn is my MP, FFS. How’s that a solution?
posted by grahamparks at 10:55 AM on November 24, 2018 [18 favorites]


I've had guys on motorbikes steal stuff from me and shove me. It's scary. I never thought oh hey, run them over with a police car. I thought damnit, I've been robbed again, glad I'm not hurt worse, is it worth making a police report.

The distant threat of possible violence from a cop is weak for detering a motorbike thief over whatever their immediate need driving the crime - violence, money, addiction, whatever, is? Punutive retaliatory violence just pours additional fuel onto the mess. It comes too late to stop crime, just creates more damage.

I would very much not want to deal with police as state sanctioned agents who think and are widely supported that it is ok to run possible criminals, ie: anyone in general public, over.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:57 AM on November 24, 2018 [17 favorites]


Just like I'm not a-ok with cops shooting fleeing theft suspects in the back EVEN IF THEY'RE GUILTY, I'm not ok with slamming two tons of metal into them at bonecrushing speed. What a delicate flower I am.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:59 AM on November 24, 2018 [31 favorites]


Ah yes, the vastly safer prospect of a mass bike chase through the streets of London, with no clear plan for stopping the guy on the moped (other than by trawling through dozens to hundreds of CCTV feeds some days after the fact and keeping your fingers crossed that he didn’t, you know, put on a different coat in an alley or something).
posted by inire at 11:01 AM on November 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


I hope everyone moralising about this would be happy for these moped thieves to be operating in there area, attacking people all day every day.

How very noble, wishing violence upon your fellow mefites. Christ alive.

It's not like we haven't got crime, and violent crime at that, in other parts of the country. That it isn't on mopeds doesn't make it less pressing, or make going straight for the option that involves maximum harm to the criminals any more or less correct.
posted by Dysk at 11:01 AM on November 24, 2018 [16 favorites]


(other than by trawling through dozens to hundreds of CCTV feeds some days after the fact and keeping your fingers crossed that he didn’t, you know, put on a different coat in an alley or something).

Yeah, or you could be sensible instead of facetious, and look at the camera feeds live, while it's ongoing.
posted by Dysk at 11:02 AM on November 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


Somewhere inside the MET is an analysis of the risks and outcomes for this policy vs the alternatives that have already been tried. Anyone want to make an FOI request?
posted by pharm at 11:02 AM on November 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


Somewhere inside the MET is an analysis of the risks and outcomes for this policy vs the alternatives that have already been tried. Anyone want to make an FOI request?

That's a high level of trust and confidence in the Met...
posted by Dysk at 11:03 AM on November 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


Re looking at the feeds live, I wholeheartedly wish that the police had both the resources and the joined up CCTV coverage to make that even a remote possibility.
posted by inire at 11:05 AM on November 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


If you get to the point where you're putting together custom training to implement a policy, then yes, the bureaucracy is going to have tried to cover its collective back.
posted by pharm at 11:05 AM on November 24, 2018


Re looking at the feeds live, I wholeheartedly wish that the police had both the resources and the joined up CCTV coverage to make that even a remote possibility.

It's a matter of investment and political will.

But no, it's better press to just ram people.
posted by Dysk at 11:06 AM on November 24, 2018 [5 favorites]



I hope everyone moralising about this would be happy for these moped thieves to be operating in there area,


Huh? I've had a burglar in my fucking bedroom this year, and I wish the police response had amounted to more than a chat in my kitchen about how they didnt have any resources to investigate, and I wish they had caught the dickhead, but also I didn't want him to be actually killed for stealing my XBox.

And that's assuming that the police only harm (and eventually kill, quite obviously) guilty people with this policy. And when they do hit an innocent person, they definitely won't be trawling for any false witnesses or leaking weed charges to the press.
posted by threetwentytwo at 11:07 AM on November 24, 2018 [18 favorites]


I'd expect an even more horrified response from the same people if it was announced that the police were actually capable of blanket live tracking of people all throughout the city. Even if it would be accepted, it's farther away from reality than a Jeremy Corbyn government.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 11:07 AM on November 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


Live CCTV operators exist, and do help the police with exactly that sort of tracking, so... ?
posted by threetwentytwo at 11:11 AM on November 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've taken all those falls back when I was an NYC bike messenger. They are no fun, but won't kill you so long as you don't go under a car. You take a sliding side fall, slowly enough that your head doesn't smack the concrete. At my fastest, I was going about 5 mph slower than these guys, but that makes you slide farther, not hit harder. They got a lot more road rash than I ever did, but not enough to get down to anything serious.

I saw a cabby bump a messenger off his bike that way. The cabby brushed the messenger carelessly, the messenger lost his shit and chased down the cabby and went to work on his mirror with his lock, and the cabby slapped him with the car just enough to wobble him, slapped him again, once more, and down he went. It was slick.

Let's look at numbers. One year, 63 knockdowns, no serious injuries, three cases reported for investigation. They seem to know how to do this.

The year before they started knocking them down, mopeds were used in 19,455 crimes in London. By way of comparison, in 2016, there were 15,544 robberies of any sort in NYC.
posted by ckridge at 11:11 AM on November 24, 2018 [31 favorites]


All the CCTV cameras are already there. That battle is lost. Might as well actually see them do some fucking good now that they're there. As it stands now, conveniently, the footage always goes missing when the police are naughty. And conveniently the system can't actually handle any meaningful crime reduction, or achieve any of the things it was installed for. Well, it's there, we are being watched. Might as well use the panopticon we've got for something meaningful as well.
posted by Dysk at 11:11 AM on November 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


Live CCTV operators exist, and do help the police with exactly that sort of tracking, so... ?

So.....my argument is that the existing capabilities aren't strong enough to watch and solve every crime, my evidence being that the police already know about and use them but still haven't been able to solve every crime and yours is.....
posted by the agents of KAOS at 11:20 AM on November 24, 2018


This conversation needs the context that these gangs weren't simply grabbing phones / laptops and running off (although there's been plenty of that). People have had acid / ammonia thrown in their faces & received life-changing injuries; others have been threatened with hammers, machetes, you name it. There have been deaths. Those individuals who have been caught & prosecuted were committing hundreds of offences before being caught, if they were caught at all.

The gangs were stealing scooters in outer London, often by assaulting Uber eats / Deliveroo drivers, riding in with helmets / head coverings so that the inner London CCTV was useless & stealing as much as they could grab, often seriously injuring people in the process. If chased by the police they knew that the rules as then applied meant that the police couldn't chase them if that chase put /the criminals/ at risk, so they took risks & often simply removed their helmets, prompting the abandoning of the chase.

People were literally dying on the streets. What would your policy response have been, given that the usual approaches weren't working?
posted by pharm at 11:21 AM on November 24, 2018 [33 favorites]


mate of mine is a sergeant trained in hot pursuit driving, she says the these colleagues have a huge amount of training precisely because after all the adrenaline stuff, they have to slow way the fuck down so the contact is at the lowest speed possible and all the other traffic conditions have to offer the guy, these are all guys, a relatively safe roll space. Look again at the video, the guy who removed his hemet on the roundabout thinking that keeps him safe, took out his phone to try to film what presumably he felt would be evidence for the later court case where he sues. I'm pissed at people above suggesting they'd be ALLOWED to ram at speed, I work for the NHS and vote labour, no way i'd agree with that. It's a risk analysis for some very defined areas of London.


and both dashcam and living in the most surveilled place on the planet outside Beijing plus tonnes of pedestrians with iPhone will ensure they're careful in implementing the law, there's alway bad apples with us; we mitigate the risk as we do in healthcare every single day
posted by Wilder at 11:22 AM on November 24, 2018 [27 favorites]


It's a matter of investment and political will.

Completely agree, and the Tories have (as is their tendency) dismally failed to properly resource the police (and the NHS, and local councils, etc etc ad nauseam) or direct their political will towards anything other than shrieking and flinging handfuls of poo at each other about Europe.

But we don’t have, and have no prospect of getting at any point in the near future, the necessary investment or political will. And yet we still have to deal with the problem, with current resources. And practically speaking, most of the suggestions in this thread about how to do that are either things that would take a serious investment (re which, see above) or were in use by the Met during the period in which moped crime substantially increased, with the attendant increase in machete robberies, acid attacks, victims being beaten up (perhaps to the same level of injury you’d get from being knocked off a moped at 25 mph?) and so on.

It’s also worth noting that this is part of an array of tactics (including spraying with indelible dye, using spike strips to burst tyres, continuing chases even if the moped rider takes his helmet off), rather than being the default, as is borne out by ckridge’s numbers.

It’s a pretty shitty aspect of a wider solution to an extremely shitty situation.
posted by inire at 11:25 AM on November 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


(Partial solution, I should say)
posted by inire at 11:27 AM on November 24, 2018


I hope everyone moralising about this would be happy for these moped thieves to be operating in there area, attacking people all day every day

Speaking as someone whose friend lost an eye in a horrific acid attack in South London, this is just about the worst line of reasoning I've heard in my whole stupid life
posted by ominous_paws at 11:30 AM on November 24, 2018 [17 favorites]


I doubt there would be enough animosity against the moped criminals to make this policy stick if it weren't for the acid attacks, which complete the identification with giant venomous insects their sound and consequent branding suggests.
posted by jamjam at 11:31 AM on November 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm pissed at people above suggesting they'd be ALLOWED to ram at speed,

People are rightly skeptical because of the well documented actions of the Met in the past.

my evidence being that the police already know about and use them but still haven't been able to solve every crime and yours is.....

CCTV tracking and detective work takes man hours, isn't flashy, doesn't get stats, and doesn't get positive writeups from the "String 'Em up" papers.
posted by threetwentytwo at 11:34 AM on November 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


Like sweet jesus, I'm watching mefi before my own eyes go full An Eye For An Eye, breathlessly regurgitating tabloid narrative on these attacks with no regard to the actual data, numbers, quantification of the incidents which would give an idea of the scale and import of the problems... This feels like an abrupt turn into r/justiceserved and I'm honestly at a loss.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:34 AM on November 24, 2018 [26 favorites]


I think you might not have read the whole thread.
posted by inire at 11:35 AM on November 24, 2018 [5 favorites]


So.....my argument is that the existing capabilities aren't strong enough to watch and solve every crime, my evidence being that the police already know about and use them but still haven't been able to solve every crime and yours is.....

That the cameras are there. It's a matter of being willing to put resources into actually using them for shit like this, not just "terrorism" and monitoring protests.

Or, to use an example from the town I live in, the police have no problem being right there when people are stumbling along drunk at night 'looking suspicious' (friends of mine have been stopped in several occasions, with "we saw you on cctv" being told to them explicitly) but when a guy tried to choke me to death in front of a camera in town (I remember thinking "well he's an idiot, that's a cctv camera right there" right before I lost consciousness - bystanders intervened after this) the police had no way of accessing the footage. When my friend had a brick thrown at her head in front of the very same cameras the police have told other friends they've spotted them on, same deal. Uhh, yeah, no, some mumble reason, sorry.

The infrastructure is there. It's usable, and it's being used. But for what? And now importantly, what isn't it being used for?
posted by Dysk at 11:36 AM on November 24, 2018 [11 favorites]


("And more importantly..." that should be at the end. Stupid phone.)
posted by Dysk at 11:41 AM on November 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


I hope everyone moralising about this would be happy for these moped thieves to be operating in there area, attacking people all day every day.

I grew up in a neighborhood plagued by drive-by shootings, so you can take your assumption that we are all delicate flowers living in crime-free zones and stuff it.

the police already know about and use them but still haven't been able to solve every crime a

"If the police can't solve every crime, that justifies escalating the violence and invasiveness of their tactics till they can" is quite literally how you end up with a police state. No hyperbole. You think Americans are gross, right? This is the most American possible tactic, at least outside of wealthy white neighborhoods. All escalating police violence does is further traumatize communities, catalyze violence within them, and dehumanize police officers who then delightfully turn their violence against their own families. We know this. This is why it's Trumpists screaming about our supposedly out-of-control cities and salivating at the possibility of sending in more heavily armed troops.

I'm astonished by the number of people here who haven't grasped that property crime in particular is inevitable in a free society, in part because we understand that there are some things more important than property.
posted by praemunire at 11:41 AM on November 24, 2018 [29 favorites]


Snatch squads to halt moped menace in London: police squads drag suspects from bikes in new tactic [Evening Standard, 12/6/2017]:
Undercover police snatch squads are dragging suspected moped thugs off their bikes in a radical new tactic to combat thieves and smash and grab raiders. Teams of plain clothes officers are mounting ambushes on criminals using mopeds or scooters while they are caught in slow moving traffic as they ride into the West End. They are deploying the snatch squads at traffic “pinch points” and strike when the moped riders are forced to come to a halt.
...
Detective Superintendent Jess Ruddell, of Westminster Police, who has brought in the snatch squads, said: “This new tactic works and sends out a message that police are willing to do this and tackle these suspects. This is hugely manpower intensive but we are absolutely committed to getting on top of this offending. We are deploying covert and overt tactics to tackle these robberies.”

Sergeant Matt Carey, of the Operation Venice team which targets moped-enabled crime, explained how police deploy spotters to identify suspects travelling to commit crime in the West End. They look for moped riders with pillion passengers who commit motoring offences such as jumping red lights or hiding licence plates with plastic bags. Then the spotters radio ahead to the snatch squads lying in wait at ambush points where the traffic comes to a halt.

Sgt Carey said: ”The pinch points are where traffic slows down to a halt, where they have to walk their bikes through. They know they are at risk there but there is pretty much nothing they can do about it once they are boxed in by other vehicles. Once they are in that position this is where we jump out and remove them from their bikes. If the risk is too high and they are travelling at speed we will not do it.”
Police snatch & grab is probably too risky with more dangerous moped crimes: Gang armed with samurai sword and machetes in smash-and-grab raid on Fleet Street watch boutique [Evening Standard video, 12/4/2017].
posted by cenoxo at 11:48 AM on November 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


Quite. But it’s specifically the frequent violence involved in these property crimes (and the further risks of bodily harm to bystanders etc arising from efforts to stop the people involved, because you have to chase three through crowded city streets) that is the issue. The guy on the bike is not the only person at risk of harm, when you look at this issue as a whole. You have to balance the risk of bodily harm to him against the risk of bodily harm to others (victims of robbery, bystanders) and take the approach that has the highest likelihood of the least bodily harm. Sometimes, in principle, that might involve knocking him off his bike. If it starts to be the default tactic in practice, and a lot of these guys are getting hurt, that risk calculus should change.
posted by inire at 11:48 AM on November 24, 2018 [9 favorites]


(And apologies, ominous_paws, I could and should have communicated my point in a less flippant way)
posted by inire at 11:49 AM on November 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


No worries, emotive subject. Same on my part.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:50 AM on November 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


At least one individual has died, probably as a result of this change of policy. It’s certainly not some risk-free zero-harm thing - people have (and probably will) die as a consequence.
posted by pharm at 11:55 AM on November 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


No, that incident was before the program was introduced and was a T-bone collision in an intersection. It is probably not related to this policy.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:00 PM on November 24, 2018 [7 favorites]


You’re right, missed that the policy change was in October 2017.
posted by pharm at 12:02 PM on November 24, 2018


I'm astonished by the number of people here who haven't grasped that property crime in particular is inevitable in a free society, in part because we understand that there are some things more important than property.

Please do explain where the assaults and murders that are being discussed fall in your classification - are they property crime that is inevitable, or are they more important than property?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:03 PM on November 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


Yes. UK police (rightly) treat physical violence far, far more seriously than property crime.

NB. If that incident I linked to above was a T-bone at an intersection (partially due to the moped being followed by a helicopter) then ironically it’s an example of a death caused by the policies some people were suggesting should be used instead up thread. Sure, we can follow these guys home with a helicopter, but if that leads to them taking huge risks & ends up with people getting killed as a result, then maybe knocking them off at low speed is the least worst option.
posted by pharm at 12:07 PM on November 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


>this is a horrifying, inhumane action<

Why? No serious harm has been done.
posted by ckridge at 12:09 PM on November 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


and that, Pharm, is why this is more nuanced...
posted by Wilder at 12:10 PM on November 24, 2018


if you support it you disgust and terrify me on a visceral level

I am (without being flippant) sorry to hear that. But the risk basis on which this is being done is no different in its principles than the approach used in other (less dramatic) areas of policing, emergency services and policy decisions generally. There absolutely will be injuries and quite likely deaths as a result. The question is whether there will be fewer than if this approach was not taken. The instinctive antipathy towards this is understandable, but doesn’t address that question.
posted by inire at 12:11 PM on November 24, 2018 [25 favorites]


Again, it may be because NHS, Police, Paramedics, ect., see things others *(we hope) never do, but we're pretty cold on risk. We want EBM, or EBP, Evidenced Based Medicine or Policing, I 'm going to wait for the data, there were deaths and physical life-changing injuries before the policy. If this reduces that (as of now no deaths after policy introduced) how is this a bad thing?


I can see our US mefites in particular possibly equating this with #BLM as this will feel like the closest thing. While I have awful concerns about UK policing, like years of sleeping with activists under an unknown ID and deaths in custody, the US situation. is different
posted by Wilder at 12:14 PM on November 24, 2018 [5 favorites]


this is a horrifying, inhumane action

What's your opinion on high speed police chases that use the PIT move? Is that inhumane?

Jesus. It is just not that dangerous to knock someone off a moped at sub 25mph if you do it right, and they are specifically training people to do this as safely to ALL as possible. They only do it if it is safest, and it is not a blanket carte-blanche 'if you see one of these fuckers, ram away' Running Man scenario that some people are trying to suggest it is.

This is safer for the public at large than an extended chase. This is fact and obvious. The fact that it is having a significant deterrent effect on the (don't forget) organised crime gangs in London using mopeds is further validation.
posted by Brockles at 12:15 PM on November 24, 2018 [10 favorites]


What's your opinion on high speed police chases that use the PIT move? Is that inhumane?

Yes. Jesus, what is so hard to grasp about this? High speed chases in general should be abolished. It's a tactic that does more harm than good, made to satisfy the bloodlust of a tabloid-soaked media.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:42 PM on November 24, 2018 [14 favorites]


The Teenage Moped Gangs Terrorising the UK's Streets [Vice, 7/6/2017]:
So who are the moped muggers? And why are they doing it?

Gangs expert Simon Harding, a senior Criminology lecturer at Middlesex University London, says it's bored young men chasing a few things at once: easy cash, cheap thrills and a way to boost their reputation as junior gangsters. Many of them post photos of stolen bikes on social media and brag about being "repo" people.

"It's been fairly common on the continent for decades, but it's really taken off in a big way in the UK since mopeds and scooters have become more common here," Harding explains. "You have smaller bikes, you have a lot of high-value phones, and you have guys aged from around 15 to 25 interested in building their reputation in urban street gangs. All that has made it the crime of the moment."

Harding has spoken to dozens of gang members about how and why they do business.

"They've told me a phone can be broken into within a few hours," he explains. "Phones will be sold within the gang and in their wider network. A lot of guys I've spoken to have three, four or five phones. They've got a phone for their mum or dad, they've got a link phone for sexual hook-ups, and they've got a trap phone – the one for drug deals with a database of contacts."

But while the value of the phone is part of the motivation, Harding says there is another commodity: something he likes to call "street capital".

"The bigger thing is the opportunity for young men to display their skill – skill in stealing bikes, stealing phones and evading capture," he explains. "It can be a way of proving yourself useful to more serious gang members, like the top drug dealers. You become the guy who always has phones. Or you become the guy who can always get hold of a bike. It makes you feel important."
posted by cenoxo at 12:42 PM on November 24, 2018 [8 favorites]


But while the value of the phone is part of the motivation, Harding says there is another commodity: something he likes to call "street capital".

And so the best thing to do is publicly escalate, make it TV friendly, and even more dangerous, then? Because as we all know, there's nothing that young, adrenaline-filled criminals who live in a media environment that is saturated in violence hate more than the thrill of a chase, their exploits being flashed all over the TV and Internet, and infamy amongst their peers, right?
posted by zombieflanders at 12:51 PM on November 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


Moped crime is down 36%. It looks like this particular form of glory is too expensive.

I had been supposing that moped means in England what it does here, a motorized bicycle that tops out at about 30 mph. It looks like they use the term for things that I would call a motor scooter. I don't know from experience what it is like to fall out of one of those. The machine itself would give you a lot more protection, but you would be going a lot faster. It looks like the angular momentum of the spinning wheels makes them topple slow, as it does on a bicycle or motorcycle, but I don't know. The wheels are smaller. Maybe that makes a difference. Angular momentum is beyond my poor ken.

One of those suspects could have slid right into a curb. That would have changed your statistics right there. I wish I knew just how those cops were trained.
posted by ckridge at 1:06 PM on November 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


Mopeds are limited to 30mph. It's not impossible to make them go faster, but these aren't exactly motorbikes.
posted by Dysk at 1:15 PM on November 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


So, if you drive by me on your moped and steal something of value to me, yeah, that's a major inconvenience for me and also probably rather scary. That doesn't mean I would be OK with the police chasing you down in a way that endangers your life and more importantly the lives of random passersby. Follow, investigate and prosecute if at all possible, but leave us all alive at the end of it, please.
posted by Dumsnill at 1:17 PM on November 24, 2018 [5 favorites]


Thank you, Dysk.
posted by ckridge at 1:30 PM on November 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


Lots of American's assuming other countries are the exact same as theirs. The UK police, while not perfect, are much more centralized an have FAR more oversight than all the many independent American constabularies who make shit up as they go along. This new policy absolutely has been thought about and the officers trained specially. These moped drivers are mostly fit young men preying on women, the elderly and low income workers. 20,000 attacks per year, many of them violent. They are not just stealing baubles the idle rich can afford to run out and replace, they are ruining people's lives and at some point your have to pay for that. The police had a lower-risk plan and they beat it. Now the police have a new higher-risk plan.

Like I want to say hey maybe enact policies that don’t involve a large underclass living in desperate poverty

I think you are confusing your own country with the UK. London is not in Brazil or in Chicago. "desperate poverty" of the American sort really doesn't exist there to any real degree. Class divisions do exist and probably contribute more to generational low income status but no-one is living in a trailer with no plumbing and treating their diabetes with prayer in the UK. Well maybe by choice but they're not forced to. And I've lived in a low income area in the UK btw, for several years.
posted by fshgrl at 1:33 PM on November 24, 2018 [24 favorites]


but no-one is living in a trailer with no plumbing and treating their diabetes with prayer in the UK

No homeless then? No one dying because of cuts to disability benefit?

There are plenty of non- Americans disagreeing with this policy, right here, and to pretend that the UK police force don't have any issues with disproportionate force is fundamentally dishonest when fucking Cressida Dick got a promotion.
posted by threetwentytwo at 1:46 PM on November 24, 2018 [17 favorites]


but no-one is living in a trailer with no plumbing and treating their diabetes with prayer in the UK.

For what it's worth, that's not what Chicago looks like either.
posted by agregoli at 1:47 PM on November 24, 2018 [7 favorites]


ctrl-F "income disparity"

"No matches found."

It's frustrating to me that even in progressive spaces that the results of addiction, income disparity and the trials and tribulations of late stage capitalism are rarely directly addressed as causative factors in the creation of this kind of crime.

Sure, there are plenty of just plain old criminals that have real malice, but it's like we can't even allow ourselves see why there's so much petty theft and crime because of how much it relates to our own places in the status quo and how actual, genuine opportunity and health make these crimes highly unattractive to the very same people whom are committing them.

One way to think about this might be this:

Think of how much stupid blind cowardly bravado and planning - all fueled by horrible needs - it takes to even want to do this kind of brazen daylight robbery.

What would someone like that do with an education, economic security and opportunity at their disposal? How many possible geniuses are we losing in this war of attrition in devaluing human life and intelligence over money?

How much have we all lost that's even more valuable than any of these material things?
posted by loquacious at 2:05 PM on November 24, 2018 [8 favorites]


For what it's worth, that's not what Chicago looks like either.

It's what a lot of the rural midwest looks like though. And large parts of California, the south and enormous chunks of New Mexico. And that's just where I've personally seen it.

The UK is headed for major social problems between austerity cuts, the lack of good jobs that don't require a university degree and Brexit. A lot of young people are getting fucked over. BUT- the police are trying to stop a fairly small number of young guys from maiming and stealing. The problems are related but not the same.

Ideally no more kids decide to take up a life of crime at the age of 14-17 but the ones who already have and are now the police's problem and ultimately its escalated to this. I'd prefer it didn't happen but as their target demographic I'd also prefer I not get blinded or maimed by some kid for my handbag.
posted by fshgrl at 2:07 PM on November 24, 2018 [5 favorites]


I think it’s time to give the Ludavico Technique a hard think.
posted by hilberseimer at 2:09 PM on November 24, 2018


Yeah, I'm well aware there are tons of people in poverty, in Chicago too. But please don't paint fanciful pictures of my city while trying to compare it to another city. Your comparison fell far flat.
posted by agregoli at 2:12 PM on November 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


It's what a lot of the rural midwest looks like though. And large parts of California, the south and enormous chunks of New Mexico. And that's just where I've personally seen it.

It's not like it doesn't exist in England, either. Maybe minus the total lack of access to medical care, but living in abject poverty in trailers with no plumbing? I know people who grew up like that.
posted by Dysk at 2:14 PM on November 24, 2018 [7 favorites]


And things have gotten considerably worse than when my friends were growing up. Just look at the monumental rise in levels of foodbank use.
posted by Dysk at 2:16 PM on November 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


"desperate poverty" of the American sort really doesn't exist there to any real degree

The government are doing their best to get there though
"Food banks fear winter crisis as universal credit is rolled out"
"How universal credit is fuelling Britain’s homelessness crisis"
"'Local welfare' schemes in England on brink of collapse, says report"
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:38 PM on November 24, 2018 [11 favorites]


The government are doing their best to get there though

They are, that is true. And Brexit is not going to help one bit. People won't even have the option to travel easily for work.

It's not like it doesn't exist in England, either. Maybe minus the total lack of access to medical care, but living in abject poverty in trailers with no plumbing? I know people who grew up like that.

With all due respect unless you've spent time in the poorer parts of the US you can't draw a comparison.
posted by fshgrl at 3:30 PM on November 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


The "pinch points" thing cenoxo mentioned above sounds way more sensible than the "ramming at speed" thing - instead of a high speed chase, radio ahead and cut them off when they inevitably get stuck. Is that a different policy or the same thing described differently? Genuine question, I'm just confused.

Acid attacks are a genuinely terrifying trend but knocking someone off a moped can severely mess someone up even under 25mph, as anyone who's ever known someone who's been "doored" on a bike can tell you...
posted by en forme de poire at 3:54 PM on November 24, 2018


Apropos of nothing.

This is the ultimate direction of the free market.

Why do only the rich get to take?

Who is willing to knock them off of their mopeds?

The game?

It's on!
posted by Max Power at 4:00 PM on November 24, 2018 [3 favorites]



For what it's worth, that's not what Chicago looks like either.

It's what a lot of the rural midwest looks like though. And large parts of California, the south and enormous chunks of New Mexico. And that's just where I've personally seen it.


Sources and accounting vary, but about a quarter of Londoners live in poverty. Los Angeles County, which has the highest rates of poverty in any county in California, is at about 25% poverty as well. So maybe this issue hinges less on where the most people are living in precarious and unstable monetary positions and why, in some of the richest places on Earth, people are going without.

As far as police accountability goes: police violence is police violence. Anyone who's paid attention knows the Met is not above being violent and racist. It's really not relevant to be less violent and racist than US cops when you're a poor person of color in the UK, is it?

Is ramming dudes on scooters the best way to address this particular issue? Maybe? It's still a fucked up response to a fucked up situation, and anyone who seems to think that the ends justify the means without acknowledging that granting police more power to hurt people always has potential to be very bad for the communities they police.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:11 PM on November 24, 2018 [8 favorites]


Mod note: deleted a couple about the wrong kind of scooter. Guys, please read the article before providing hot takes.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:48 PM on November 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


The "pinch points" thing cenoxo mentioned above sounds way more sensible than the "ramming at speed" thing - instead of a high speed chase, radio ahead and cut them off when they inevitably get stuck. Is that a different policy or the same thing described differently? Genuine question, I'm just confused.

All part of a methodology to combat the same widespread issue, but two different parts of it.

knocking someone off a moped can severely mess someone up even under 25mph, as anyone who's ever known someone who's been "doored" on a bike can tell you...
Basically, both parts of your post say "watch the video". Yes, 20 or even 15mph into an immovable object without any slowing down at all can really hurt, but that is not the same as what is being done. Mopeds are being tagged on the rear during cornering, where they are already unstable and doing much less than 25mph usually, and knocked over. Not sudden stops into solid objects so it isn't as severe as getting doored (which would be completely uncalled for, frankly).
posted by Brockles at 5:48 PM on November 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


The gentle and infallible way of harmlessly hitting someone at 25 mph.
posted by ominous_paws at 6:15 PM on November 24, 2018 [14 favorites]


Re looking at the feeds live, I wholeheartedly wish that the police had both the resources and the joined up CCTV coverage to make that even a remote possibility.

Sooo...you want the police to have fully monitored CCTV cameras all hooked up together...everywhere?

That's fucking terrifying.
posted by sexyrobot at 6:29 PM on November 24, 2018 [3 favorites]



When the police are cut back to a point where they can no longer safely police certain areas as they have been in the UK, this sort of stupid and dangerous tactic is inevitable.


And precedented. The Los Angeles police got their reputation because the sprawled geography in LA made every emergency call a matter of "get in, get on with it, get it over with and get out" in time for the next call.
posted by ocschwar at 6:47 PM on November 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


If you smack someone going 30 mph while going 31 mph in a direction just slightly oblique to their own, you smack them at about 1 mph.
posted by ckridge at 7:03 PM on November 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


you get that they still hit the ground going 30mph though, right
posted by poffin boffin at 7:13 PM on November 24, 2018 [17 favorites]


Seems to me there's a simple technical solution here.

Mandate that all motor vehicles sold in the UK have police-only killswitches on the motor. Vehicular crime happens, the police kill the motor and the vehicle coasts to a halt and your criminal is now on foot.

Of course, that would require some degree of loss of profit on the part of manufacturers and/or a rise in cost to the consumer, and thus violates Capitalism, so it'll never happen.

Far cheaper to risk lives like this, apparently.
posted by scrump at 10:34 PM on November 24, 2018


scrump: No, that's technically impossible to do in an effective, safe, police-only way that is hard to impossible for the driver to disable. Your comment is like those technically clueless suggestions that come up once in a while about crypto backdoors for the government.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:56 PM on November 24, 2018 [19 favorites]


Vehicular crime happens, the police kill the motor and the vehicle coasts to a halt and your criminal is now on foot.

How are you going to stop people bringing in non-kill-switched vehicles from the rest of the EU, perhaps there will be some kind of technology at the border?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:36 AM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


Sooo...you want the police to have fully monitored CCTV cameras all hooked up together...everywhere?

That's fucking terrifying.


Monitorable (not fully / constantly monitored) and focused on roads in central city areas, with automatic deletion of recordings after a relatively short period, and with access logged (and linked to a specific crime / incident report). Preferably following a public inquiry into previous abuses of police surveillance powers, with broader terms than the current Undercover Policing Enquiry.

Forgive me, I got caught up in the thread’s spirit of long-term solutions for immediate problems.
posted by inire at 1:29 AM on November 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


I’d also hope it would be a slightly more workable / proportionate response to this issue than saturating the city with police, installing legally mandated and police-trackable kill switches on every vehicle in the country (?!?), or banning mopeds (?!?!?!?).
posted by inire at 1:41 AM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


As someone who rides a motorcycle, and hit the ground more times than I can count*: when you get on the bike, you already know (or should know) that you may fall down. If you're not dressed to protect yourself from injury, well... that's on you.

I know from experience that many people who have never ridden a motorcycle have a skewed perspective of what happens when you fall down. It doesn't have to mean instant death or grave injuries. Most of the time, not a whole lot happens except for some bruises and gravel rash (depending, again, on what you are wearing). I have certainly come off the bike at 25 mph (on tarmac) without any injuries. I was a bit sore the next day.

The technique that's being discussed here is inherently risky. But crime is (or should be) inherently risky. I bet that the scooter thugs themselves don't see it as disproportional.

*which is pretty much normal once you start riding off-road
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:16 AM on November 25, 2018 [7 favorites]


you get that they still hit the ground going 30mph though, right

No, they hit the ground with the same vertical speed as if they fell over standing, then slide horizontally until their speed is close enough to zero for them to stand up and run away (see the video), while collecting a nice amount of road rash.
posted by Stoneshop at 3:23 AM on November 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


One in 200 people now homeless in Britain as crisis deepens. "The worst affected region is London, with a total of 167,853 people classed as homeless, or roughly one in every 53 people."
posted by Julianna Mckannis at 3:32 AM on November 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


More detailed analysis of “two-wheeled” crime in London, the teen-aged perpetrators and their methods, and the measures taken by Met police — Revealed: scooter gangs commit 50,000 crimes in London each year [Evening Standard, 5/19/2017].
posted by cenoxo at 4:33 AM on November 25, 2018


Seems a lot of the horrified responses here are lacking any notion of risk analysis (and the mechanics of mopeds and the falling off of them (and the the definition of a "high speed" chase)). It is the very same instinct that brought the US the TSA and anti-terrorism security theater in the wake of 9/11. Not understanding risk analysis.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 4:47 AM on November 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


What would someone like that do with an education, economic security and opportunity at their disposal?
Become CEO of a huge megacorp and exploit their workers? Make big plays in the financial markets and collapse the economy? Get into politics and fuck over thousands of people and the environment? Rig an election, invade another country, have their enemies killed? I don't know, there are all sorts of things that clever, privileged assholes get up to. Why do you assume they wouldn't?
posted by Hal Mumkin at 4:58 AM on November 25, 2018


Low-powered electric scooters are currently illegal on public roads in the UK, although shared scooter startups (Lime, Bird, Skip, etc.) hope to change this. Would a flood of shared e-scooters increase related crime rates in London?

In the USA, shared electric scooters have been around for several years, but have been used for relatively few crimes (i.e., Atlanta, San Diego).
posted by cenoxo at 6:50 AM on November 25, 2018


A new development today: The Police Federation said that although it broadly supported the Met’s tough tactics, the measures “breach current legislation”. Its officials will meet policing minister Nick Hurd this week to discuss better protection for pursuit officers.

Tim Rogers of the Police Federation of England and Wales said: “We need to reinforce the fact that the tactics used, necessary as they are and supported by senior police leaders, are in fact in breach of current legislation. Judged against the common standard, as police officers are, it is dangerous to drive a car deliberately at another road user. The law clearly classifies this as dangerous driving, and officers could be prosecuted. No defence, no exemption.”
posted by Lanark at 6:59 AM on November 25, 2018 [9 favorites]


>>Mandate that all motor vehicles sold in the UK have police-only killswitches on the motor.

>No, that's technically impossible to do in an effective, safe, police-only way that is hard to impossible for the driver to disable. Your comment is like those technically clueless suggestions that come up once in a while about crypto backdoors for the government.

Ditto "smart" guns.
posted by MoTLD at 7:12 AM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


A lot of people are saying things like "this is absolutely not the start of a slippery slope" from classical UK policing to US-style policing.

I used to think that about the rise of the racist right-wing parties in this country, too. I think the burden of proof is on you, now.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 7:32 AM on November 25, 2018 [8 favorites]


Judged against the common standard, as police officers are, it is dangerous to drive a car deliberately at another road user. The law clearly classifies this as dangerous driving, and officers could be prosecuted.

Getting a vehicle to stop and thus ending a pursuit by forcing it off the road has been done in the UK, albeit maybe not as standard procedure, for at least 15 years. Because that was when I last had cable TV and occasionally watched those 'maniacs doing near-suicidal things trying to outrun police' on some UK channel, probably ITV. In which those actions sometimes were shown. So if the constables involved had not only been prosecutable but actually prosecuted, there would by now be usable jurisdiction to support the above statement..
posted by Stoneshop at 8:22 AM on November 25, 2018


Hal Mumkin: Seems a lot of the horrified responses here are lacking any notion of risk analysis (and the mechanics of mopeds and the falling off of them (and the the definition of a "high speed" chase)).

Agreed. If I were a scooter thug, I'd much much rather be stopped this way than by being shot at. After all, if someone has been stopped by bullets, they are by definition injured or they wouldn't have stopped; whether or not you're injured when you fall down, because your scooter is being shoved by a car, remains to be seen.
posted by Too-Ticky at 8:33 AM on November 25, 2018


I thought I was a bleeding heart soft lefty liberal until I read this thread, so it's good to know I still have some room to manoeuvre. I read the article, and watched the video, earlier today and thought, "ouch, harsh, but seems fair enough".

In an ideal world the police would have more resources to do a nice gentle and thorough job of community policing and we'd live in a society where the poor weren't getting poorer and being screwed over more and more... but, until we get there I guess we should just... let kids carry on mugging people at high speed, driving across pavements/sidewalks to do so, then escaping through busy streets at dangerously high speeds?

Maybe there are worse examples than those shown in the video - we can only go by what we see there - but it looks fair enough to me. A bump at a reasonably low speed, injuring the criminal, rather than continuing a high speed chase through populated streets seems a safer option all round. I mean, it'd be quite easy to not get knocked off the moped by... stopping?
posted by fabius at 1:45 PM on November 25, 2018 [5 favorites]


I mean, it'd be quite easy to not get knocked off the moped by... stopping?

Exactly. And, to me, these kids knowing now that if they keep running they may get dropped on their arses makes it more likely their perception point of "Shit we're caught" happens earlier. Before, they'd always think *maybe* they can just get away, if they now think "There's a chance I'm going to get hurt if I keep running" means they stop earlier? Perfect outcome.

People act like the police are endangering these people by knocking them off the mopeds. They aren't. The thieves are endangering themselves because they're essentially caught but refusing to accept it.
posted by Brockles at 2:59 PM on November 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


MoTLD: I don't think "smart guns" are a great idea, but the failure modes and parameters seem very different. A police-only kill switch on a vehicle needs to be impossible to disable by the owner, who is in possession of the vehicle for a long time, can spend whatever time, tools, and resources they want on it, and so on, and should also be secure enough that no one else can access the killswitch remotely, which seems really hard.

"Smart guns" are only supposed (as far as I understand) to prevent the gun being taken from the owner and used against them, which as far as I've seen is mostly a matter of some kind of fingerprint sensor or similar. It only needs to block the gun against casual use for someone who's just grabbed it and has at most a few seconds to defeat the mechanism, which is hugely different. I think it's probably quite possible to make a gun that will be 99%+ effective at preventing a non-owner user to use it in a hot situation.

The main worry would be failing safe, which in the case of guns could be seen as failing deadly, that is, the authorized user wants to fire the gun, but the mechanism won't let them. That seems harder to fix, but it all depends on what percentage of failure you're willing to accept, and I'm sure you can come up with risk analysis that will tell you what percentage will actually net save lives. I don't think it's a great idea, but it's not as obviously impossible.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:23 PM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


No, the smart gun concept goes hand in hand with confiscation. Once the chip is there, who do we think is going to want to own the use of every gun so made?

Authority, that's who.
posted by MoTLD at 3:40 PM on November 25, 2018


Remember the Clipper chip? Same thing already went down with crypto...
posted by MoTLD at 3:41 PM on November 25, 2018


Lovely demonstration of appropriate force being carefully used.
posted by w0mbat at 5:09 PM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


Here's a question I have - how many motorcycle robberies have resulted in a victim using something like their own car, an umbrella, a stick, canes, their own arms, the bag or stolen object in question, etc. to knock the supposed young miscreants off their mopeds at the time of theft? I mean, they grab and speed away, how many people hold on long enough to yank the thief off the bike, or thwack the driver with a rock or something?

Yes, I know this is a long shot, but that's precisely the point. There must be vigilante justice sorts out there, and I'd honestly be surprised if it didn't work a time or two and get publicized in the course of 50,000 thefts a year. I know suing for assault is also a thing the thieves might do, but y'know, did that work? How far have the victims gone to protect their own property?

I feel like that might be something that informs public opinion about how much force by police is acceptable.

I know a couple who used to carry two long umbrellas, the non-collapsible meter-long singing-in-the-rain kind, and casually swing them around their bodies whenever they were in public. People gave inconsiderate bastards a wide berth. Occasionally they would straight unfold them and refold them as they got on the subway. They got chewed out sometimes, but their defense actually literally was "we don't let pickpockets get close to us, have you ever had a pickpocket maybe you should try being antisocial". People hated them, but they always had 2 meters on every side of themselves. Personally, I rather fall on the side of keeping my hands in my pockets with my valuables. I don't know how that applies to moped thieves or if anyone is taking statistics on this kind of behavior, but it's a thing to think about. This was in Beijing, and it was 5 years ago, when being eccentric and/or drunk, whether local or not, was enough to get you a wide berth even from police unless you outright assaulted someone. I honestly do wonder if you can knock someone off a moped with an umbrella backhand. I googled, but no combination of terms I can think of right now will give me any information about how to knock a motorcycle rider off a bike at speed as a pedestrian. Probably for the best.

I dunno. 50,000 moped thefts a year, man. I give the cops a pass on this one, especially if they're actually developing ways to do this without seriously hurting people. I had my phone taken exactly this way, out of my hands, by some assholes in Cambodia this August. To this day I still hold my keys in one hand if I'm using my phone by a street. You ain't gettin' it without a bruise or puncture wound.
posted by saysthis at 8:06 PM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


This thread is hilarious to me.

Plenty of ACABing and unanimous agreement that police in the US would simply murder all involved with gunfire.

Meanwhile, having watched this video as a cop working in a moderately violent US city, literally any of these uses of force would put me in prison for felony assault with a dangerous weapon. Additionally the county attorney would be looking very seriously at attempted murder charges, even though any defendant other than a police officer would never get charged with that here.

FWIW you couldn't pay me to be one of these officers. The job doesn't love you back and the very second one of these suspects gets injured or killed the officers involved are likely to lose their careers at a minimum. And I promise you that eventually one will go bad. There's no way around it. I've seen a man die from a ten foot fall. Some partners recently had a suspect in a foot chase somehow snap his femur jumping off a loading dock, leaving the jagged edge of the bone sticking out of his thigh (luckily that suspect dropped his loaded pistol when he broke his leg). The idea that there's a level of training that eliminates the risk from vehicle contact at 25 mph is sheer fantasy. The very second it happens the public will be baying for that officer's blood.

I've talked with a UK officer - since lost touch with him - who was badly stabbed fighting with a robbery suspect. The police force gave him a little bit of time for physical recovery, but not enough for the injuries he'd sustained. They attempted to put him out for his PTSD. He fought it for a while but eventually decided it wasn't worth fighting to come back to a job he now dreaded doing. I've no idea how his mental health is doing now, but I hope it's better. That's what happens when an *officer* is injured - once the *suspect* is injured the kid gloves come off.

Young cops tend to take the victimization of their callers personally. Knowing you'll only ever catch a small percentage of the suspects in the criminal reports you take is frustrating, so many are willing to put their own safety at severe risk to apprehend people. Lord knows I've done it. But sooner or later you have to learn that the public doesn't care, administration doesn't care, and the job doesn't care. Frankly the public doesn't even care about crime unless and until it affects them personally (witness this thread).

I'm a big fan of seeing these suspects get caught. I am very much not a fan at all of what's going to eventually happen to at least one of the cops.
posted by firebrick at 9:01 PM on November 25, 2018 [5 favorites]


Here's a question I have - how many motorcycle robberies have resulted in a victim using something like their own car, an umbrella, a stick, canes, their own arms, the bag or stolen object in question, etc. to knock the supposed young miscreants off their mopeds at the time of theft?

Anecdata from same mode of crime different location though. That is a really good way for the victim to get injured or dead. Moped bag snatcher grabbed the bag. It got tangled. Victim fell hard getting suddenly jerked from zero to 10-15 kpm. She wound up with a severe brain injury from hitting the curb. Moped guy in helmet skidded and ran off. She did not recover.
posted by Gotanda at 2:25 AM on November 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


Here's a question I have - how many motorcycle robberies have resulted in a victim using something like their own car, an umbrella, a stick, canes, their own arms, the bag or stolen object in question, etc. to knock the supposed young miscreants off their mopeds at the time of theft?

People sometimes try that, and it more often than not ends up with worse consequences for the person being robbed. When the robber is on a scooter, the only item that offers any kind of recourse is a hand- or shoulder-bag, something that you can keep a decent grip on. A phone snatched out of your hand? Forget it, the robber is meters away before you can react. Umbrellas and the like may be effective against pickpockets on foot, hardly at all when the assailant is on a scooter. And holding on to a bag while it is pulled away from you is rarely going to end well, as basic physics (mass, and energy) will tell you. So you will get pulled off your feet and dragged along until you let go, the strap breaks or the rider kisses the pavement. And in most cases, it will be one of the first two options that will happen.
posted by Stoneshop at 3:02 AM on November 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


the very second one of these suspects gets injured or killed the officers involved are likely to lose their careers at a minimum.

This is emphatically not how things tend to go with police in the UK, the London Met in particular...
posted by Dysk at 4:04 AM on November 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


Boy as a Texan this conversation seems to be taking place in a whole 'nother universe.
posted by bookman117 at 5:34 AM on November 26, 2018


Occasionally they would straight unfold them and refold them as they got on the subway.

I knew someone who used to do this to clear a path amongst tourists in Times Square. He was also an asshole.

I am very much not a fan at all of what's going to eventually happen to at least one of the cops

That’s the thing though. A policy like this isn’t only terrible because of the whole “no amount of training mitigates the risk of vehicular contact at speed” thing, or even only because it brutalizes criminals. It’s poison because it brutalizes the police, too, and, by extension, the rest of us. (Well, you, in this case, I’m on the guns&god side of the Atlantic, so...already there.)

I know slippery slope arguments are often shit, but encouraging state violence that is televised (in whatever way) and has obvious potential to be gameified (I hate that I have to think this way but this is our timeline) is a really bad idea.

There is probably no one magic bullet for scooter crime. Doing the lightly draconian violent thing that has a lot of possible dystopian consequences before you’ve tried those other things is a choice that definitely says something about who you’re going to be. Especially because of the precedent it sets right before things are likely to get much, much worse in the UK.
posted by schadenfrau at 6:39 AM on November 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


Mod note: A few comment removed. MoTLD, you've been coming on kinda strong in here, and need to let the thread be, and doubly so before you start calling people morons for not agreeing with you. Let it drop.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:34 PM on November 27, 2018


Here's a question I have - how many motorcycle robberies have resulted in a victim using something like their own car, an umbrella, a stick, canes, their own arms, the bag or stolen object in question, etc. to knock the supposed young miscreants off their mopeds at the time of theft?

Agree with those above that resistance or retaliation is likely to result in worse outcomes for the victim. My 70 year old mother-in-law ended up in hospital after a moped rider grabbed her handbag at speed. She didn't release her grip fast enough and was dragged several metres; she was hospitalised for her injuries and then also suffered a related heart-attack a few hours later (both of which she thankfully recovered from).
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 11:04 AM on November 28, 2018


Do you think it is or is not okay for police to ram thieves off their mopeds?
  • 79% say yes
  • 9% say no
    (source).

  • posted by matthewr at 1:09 AM on November 30, 2018


    This is the same general public that's consistently in favour of the death penalty, so maybe asking the British public for guidance is a fucking awful idea (see also: brexit).
    posted by Dysk at 2:05 AM on November 30, 2018


    Also, roughly the same numbers exist for UK support for the "hostile environment" policies and for reducing the numbers of immigrants. That may or may not be a coincidence.
    posted by zombieflanders at 3:10 AM on November 30, 2018


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