Motorcycles can be dangerous vehicles; without the added protection a car offers, coming off of a bike can lead to serious injuries. And unfortunately, the police are often powerless to pursue thieves if it is deemed that the rider could come to harm – even when the concern is for a thieving menace to society!
Now, I’m not having a dig at the police here. This story from the Daily Mail can be seen from both sides of the coin. According to the report, police were ordered not to pursue thieves making away with £20,000 worth of motorcycles because a chase would put the lives of the criminals in danger.
Police had to watch them ride in to the distance for fear of their safety, given that the thieves were not wearing helmets or protective gear. The officers involved were reportedly following protocol and procedure in not initiating a pursuit after the robbery at the Manchester Motorbike Store in Altrincham.
There has been somewhat of a negative backlash on the police for their safety conscious actions. The report quotes Sale West MP Graham Brady, whom states “I am astonished that the welfare of criminals in the act of breaking the law should be put before the public’s expectation that criminals should be apprehended when the opportunity presents. I expect most police officers would be deeply frustrated not to be allowed to pursue criminals because of health and safety issues of this sort.” His point makes perfect sense.
Greater Manchester Police Supt Steve Nibloe has defended the actions of the officers, stating “When police officers attended to this incident, suspects were seen driving off on motorbikes. The officers were asked not to pursue the suspects as they were not wearing the correct safety equipment and were not wearing helmets, so it’s clear to me the correct decision was taken.”
It’s a difficult situation to be in. On one hand, any officer would have happily pursued the criminals to apprehend them for the thievery. But high speed chases can easily end badly. Without safety equipment, the criminal riders could have been seriously or fatally injured had they come off the bikes in their attempts to get away from pursuing police. Personally, I don’t think this is an issue of health and safety gone mad; it just seems too dangerous to pursue a person with no safety equipment on a bike. It’s all too easy to say “well who cares about the safety of a criminal anyway?”, but the fact of the matter remains that a pursuit could easily end in fatalities.
To flip back to the other side of the coin, the concerns and frustration of store owner Tony Crawford is understandable. Losing thousands of pounds worth of stock, only to have police inform him they let the criminals get away because it was too dangerous to chase them, appears to have left him rather confused. The source reports him saying “it seems strange that they can’t chase these people when they’re right in front of them, and obviously if they had I might have my bikes back.”
So it seems to be somewhat of a catch 22 situation to be in. It’s mad that the police couldn’t pursue low life criminals because they were concerned for their safety, but a chase could have ended up in fatalities.
There is certainly room for debate on this sort of issue.
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