Can the police knock riders off in a chase

I just read that a police driver was taken to a disciplinary tribunal for knocking a criminal off his moped. The officer was cleared eventually but was under investigation for years. It must have been hell having that held over him for all that time! I thought that they were allowed to knock these thieves off their mopeds now and so why did this happen?  They get no sympathy from me; they’re putting innocent people’s safety in danger by riding so recklessly and they deserve whatever injuries they get. 
Aled via Facebook (@BikelawyerUK)

Answer

What you’re referring to is a tactic employed by the Metropolitan Police called ‘tactical contact’ which, along with the use of a special marking spray, was introduced to combat motorcycle & scooter related crimes in London.

Prior to this there was a perception that the police were reluctant to pursue these riders as they were sometimes as young as 14 and rode recklessly, at high speed, and often without helmets.

Obviously the officers who are trained to employ the tactic are authorised to use manoeuvres which would be considered dangerous or reckless if carried out under normal circumstances, but they cannot act with impunity.  Carrying out tactical contact is a use of force and so must be lawful, proportionate and reasonable in the circumstances.

This is complicated, but what it essentially means is that there has to be a good reason for the officers to use the tactic, and before acting they have to consider a range of factors including the road conditions; the seriousness of the crime; the risk to the rider of taking action and the competing risk to the public of not.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has the power to investigate officers where there is some suggestion that they got the decision making wrong, for example if they used disproportionate force.

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