Police 'absolutely right' to knock moped thieves off bikes says Prime Minister Theresa May

Theresa May has backed police over controversial new tactics for stopping moped-riding criminals.

Theresa May has backed police ramming moped thieves

The Prime Minister said that a "robust" response was needed from police to what she described as a growing problem of people using mopeds to commit crimes such as bag- and phone-snatching.

-> Police are now allowed to knock moped thieves off their bikesScotland Yard last week released dramatic footage showing police vehicles knocking suspects off their scooters.

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Senior officers defended the use of "tactical contact", saying it was needed to stop dangerous chases and has helped reduce moped-enabled crime in London by over a third.

Theresa May has backed police ramming moped thieves

Asked for her view of the tactic during her visit to Argentina for the G20 summit, Mrs May said: "I think it is absolutely right.

"These people on these mopeds are acting unlawfully and committing crimes and I think it's absolutely right that we see a robust police response to that."

She added: "Moped crime has been an issue of concern for some time now, as it has been growing in certain areas, in particular in London."

Labour has raised concerns about the approach, which shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said earlier this week was "potentially very dangerous".

Police can now ram moped thieves off bikes

"It shouldn't be legal for anyone," said Ms Abbott. "Police are not above the law."

-> Police ramming moped thieves 'exactly what we need' says Home SecretaryBut Sajid Javid, who revealed in June that his phone was taken in a moped mugging before he became Home Secretary, challenged Ms Abbott's assessment.

"Risk-assessed tactical contact is exactly what we need," he wrote on Twitter. "Criminals are not above the law."

The Metropolitan Police said its footage showed tactics that specially-trained drivers are able to use to reduce the need for pursuits and prevent injury occurring to offenders and members of the public.

Force chiefs said there is no maximum speed for police cars to hit mopeds, and that it is a common misconception among moped thieves that officers will end their pursuit if the suspect drives dangerously or removes their helmet.

The disclosures also prompted questions over protection for police if a suspect is seriously injured in a stop.

Efforts to tackle offenders riding motorcycles and mopeds have come under the spotlight following a spike in incidents in recent years, particularly in London.

Scotland Yard said moped crime can happen "at any time of the day or night", with some criminals stealing up to 30 phones in an hour.

Latest figures show 12,419 moped offences were recorded across the capital from January to October - a 36% fall compared with the equivalent period of 2017.