UK force investigates after outrage over runaway calf rammed by police car

PTI, Jun 17, 2024, 4:18 PM IST

Credit: @UB1UB2 / X/ video screengrab

London: A UK police force has been strongly criticised by ministers, animal rights groups and outraged members of the public after a squad car ramming into a runaway calf on the streets of west London was caught on camera.

UK Home Secretary James Cleverly demanded a “full, urgent explanation” for the incident over the weekend and Surrey Police said on Sunday that the officer who was driving the police car has been removed from frontline duties pending the outcome of investigations. The 10-month-old calf named Beau Lucy had escaped from Staines Moor on Friday and is recovering after being hit twice by a police car on Raleigh Road in Feltham, west London.

“I fully appreciate the distress our handling of this incident has caused and will ensure that it is thoroughly and diligently investigated,” Nev Kemp, Deputy Chief Constable of Surrey Police, said in a statement in the wake of the outrage the footage unleashed over the weekend.

“In addition to an internal referral to our Professional Standards Department, we have also referred the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) for independent consideration. At this time, the officer who was driving the police car has been removed from frontline duties pending the outcome of these investigations,” he said.

Addressing concerns for the wellbeing of the injured calf, the police said she is now back with her owner and “recuperating with her herd” after sustaining a large cut to one leg and cuts and grazes.

“She continues to be monitored by a vet and our rural officers are staying in contact with the owner for updates. I can confirm that on the night, efforts were made to contact local vets without success and efforts were simultaneously being made to identify the owner. Why these were unsuccessful and what more could and should have been done will form a key part of the investigation,” Kemp added.

In response to criticism of the force’s initial response saying the police officer concerned had acted with public safety concerns in mine, Kemp stressed that “as well as our overriding duty to protect the public, the welfare of animals is important to us”.

“I am committed to ensuring that we have a full understanding of what took place and why, and we will fully support any investigation. I have also briefed the Home Office on what action we are taking and we are liaising with several animal charities that have been in touch with us about this incident,” he added.

Home Secretary Cleverly had reposted the video of the incident on X and demanded answers: “I can think of no reasonable need for this action. I’ve asked for a full, urgent explanation for this. It appears to be unnecessarily heavy handed.” The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) charity also issued a statement condemning the treatment of the animal.

“This is upsetting and distressing footage. As soon as we were made aware, we urgently contacted the police to establish the background and to find out what happened to the calf. We are pleased to hear the calf survived and is receiving vet care,” an RSPCA statement said.

“All animals should be treated with respect. Together, we can create a better world for all animals,” the statement added.

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