A police inspector’s “boast” on social media about an arrest that saw a thief crashing headfirst into the road after being deliberately knocked off a bike has divided opinion.
While some have praised the Hammersmith and Fulham officer for using a van door to stop the offender in an unconventional arrest, others have branded it “disgraceful conduct” that should be investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
Inspector Richard Berns pinned a tweet showing video of the arrest on Twitter last week, prompted more than 170 people to comment.
Berns wrote in an accompanying caption: “This criminal tried to get away, but thanks to the driving of A/PS Field & A (small + proportionate) nudge from me, he got 28 weeks instead.”
The footage shows a cyclist, identified by the Evening Standard, as Jake Nedd, being pursued by officers in a van.
The 31-year-old had earlier been captured on CCTV stealing clothing from an unlocked Range Rover parked in Fulham.
The footage shows Nedd attempted to flee police on a Santander bike before Berns opens his passenger door as the van pulls up alongside him.
Nedd, who is not wearing a helmet, swerves across the cycle lane and is thrown from the bike after his front wheel hits the kerb.
After being quizzed on Twitter about restrictions in place surrounding police pursuits of moped riders - officers are discouraged from chasing riders who are not wearing helmets - Berns is told that the IPCC could have cause to investigate the “dangerous driving” incident.
Berns retorted that he “wasn’t driving”, before another commenter also expresses concern about the method in which Nedd was apprehended.
“While I support catching criminals, this could have resulted in a death if his head hit the kerb/tarmac.”
Other commenters came to Berns’ defence, questioning what else the inspector could have done to resolve the situation.
Berns then couldn’t help joining back in on the thread, with a somewhat pointless clarification.
The inspector was also questioned about the appropriateness of posting the footage on social media, with one commenter suggesting it amounted to a “boast”.
A criminal defence lawyer then entered the debate, detailing the worst case scenario, while a fellow officer took the opportunity to sum the situation up somewhat differently.
Berns stopped replying to the thread as it gained momentum on Tuesday, but then began replying to other tweets that supported him.
Nedd, of no fixed address, was jailed for 28 weeks at Westminster Magistrates’ Court after admitting theft from a motor vehicle, going equipped for theft and taking a Santander bike without consent at 8.30am on June 4.
Councillor Sue Fennimore, deputy leader of Hammersmith and Fulham, defended the arrest to the Standard saying it was “another excellent piece of joint work by our CCTV team and the Police”.
The Metropolitan Police told HuffPost UK that it was aware of the footage but was unable to confirm whether any internal or independent investigation had been launched into the arrest.