IOPC tells Surrey Police to investigate whether its response to loose cow was ‘appropriate and proportionate’

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) says it will not be investigating Surrey Police’s response to a cow on the loose in West London.

Jun 21, 2024
By Paul Jacques

An officer was taken off frontline duties after striking the cow twice with his vehicle in an incident that was captured on video and shared widely on social media.

Surrey Police referred itself to the IOPC, which has now decided that while “an investigation is required” it will be for the force’s professional standards department to take this forward.

In a statement, the IOPC said: “We received two complaint referrals from Surrey Police on June 17 in relation to the actions and decision-making by officers from the force while trying to detain a cow in Feltham, West London, on Friday June 14.

“Footage of the cow being struck by a police car was shared widely on social media and we have examined this along with footage and audio provided by the force from the officers’ body-worn videos, along with police incident logs.

“They detail the animal ramming a police car, charging at members of the public and posing a risk to road users.

“After careful consideration, we have decided that an investigation is required into whether the methods used to contain the cow were appropriate and proportionate in these circumstances, and whether the officers upheld police standards of professional behaviour throughout the incident, including their communication with members of the public who were present.

“However, we do not consider the investigation needs to be undertaken by the IOPC so it will be for Surrey’s professional standards department to take it forward.”

It added: “If the complainants are unhappy with the outcome of the investigation they will have a right of review to the IOPC, providing a level of independent oversight.”

Surrey Police Deputy Chief Constable Nev Kemp said: “I know how important it is that we provide the public with answers as to how these actions came about and what events led up to it.

“We acknowledge the decision of the IOPC that this should be a local investigation and will continue to progress this accordingly.

“A full and thorough investigation will be led by Surrey Police’s professional standards department and overseen by a senior investigating officer from Surrey and Sussex Police’s Major Crime Team.

“This will take time, however, I reaffirm my commitment to ensuring that this is diligently investigated and we will also continue to provide updates to our local community and the wider public via our website.”

Surrey Police said that around 8.55pm, it had received reports that a cow was running loose in Staines-upon-Thames.

“The cow was running loose throughout the evening on a number of main roads and during this time, we received numerous calls from the public reporting a car being damaged and it running at members of the public,” it said.

“Given these reports, officers were extremely concerned about the public’s safety, and over a period of a number of hours tried a number of options to safely capture the cow.

“Unfortunately, these were unsuccessful, and the decision was made to stop it using a police car.”

However, Home Secretary James Cleverly posted on X: “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.”

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