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Officer who used police car to ram cow removed from frontline duties

Surrey Police received reports of a cow on the loose in Staines-upon-Thames on Friday evening (Kai Bennetts/PA)
Surrey Police received reports of a cow on the loose in Staines-upon-Thames on Friday evening (Kai Bennetts/PA)

A police officer who used his response car to ram an escaped cow has been removed from frontline duties, Surrey Police said.

The incident happened on Friday at around 8.55pm after the force received reports that a cow was running loose in Staines-upon-Thames.

Deputy Chief Constable Nev Kemp said: “I fully appreciate the distress our handling of this incident has caused and will ensure that it is thoroughly and diligently investigated.

“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.”

Home Secretary James Cleverly had asked for a “full, urgent explanation” as to why officers used the car to ram the escaped animal, saying it seemed “unnecessarily heavy handed”.

The animal, a 10-month-old calf named Beau Lucy, is “limping” but doing “a lot better” and taking medicine to treat her injuries, according to her farmer owner.

Online footage of the incident showed Beau Lucy in a residential street being hit twice by a police car, as a nearby member of the public shouts “what are you doing that for?”

Beau Lucy got to her feet after the first strike and being thrown metres down the road, before being hit again by the car a second time.

She then remains on the ground, with her neck and top half of her body appearing to be stuck under the car. Officers then get out to assess the situation.

The force said it had been alerted by calls reporting that a car had been damaged and the animal was running at members of the public.

Deputy Chief Constable Nev Kemp added: “I know there is much concern around the current welfare of the cow. She is now back with her owner and recuperating with her herd.

“She did sustain 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.”

He said the police had acted out of a duty to protect the public and that animal welfare was important .

He said “we know people want answers about how this happened and what led up to it”, adding: “I am committed to ensuring that we have a full understanding of what took place and why, and we will fully support any investigation.”

It comes after Beau Lucy’s owner, a farmer who would only give his name as Rob, described the incident as “quite horrific” and “wrong” and said “it could have been handled so much better.”

Rob, who would not be drawn on whether the officers involved should face any disciplinary action, suggested that a vet should have been involved in Beau Lucy’s rescue, which may have avoided causing her distress.

He told PA news agency: “I think the video speaks for itself. It was quite horrific.

“The method of dealing with the situation was incorrect. It was wrong and I think that’s the message we’ve learned.

“I don’t understand why (the police) didn’t use a tranquilising dart.

“If they used a the animal would have calmed right down and gone over it if they needed to to get a halter on it or restrain it.

“I just think that there was poor communication, and they should have spoken to a vet really. If they did speak to a vet then surely it would have gone down the road of tranquillising.”

Beau Lucy was returned to Rob’s farm, located between the border between Surrey and Middlesex, on Saturday morning with bruises.

He said: “She’s a lot better. Time will tell because we don’t know what internal injuries she might have.”

Beau Lucy  is “sulking a bit” and “limping” and she is also on antibiotics and painkillers.

Surrey’s police and crime commissioner Lisa Townsend, said: “There is much speculation on social media, which does not necessarily reflect the situation, which was ongoing for a number of hours, or the difficult decisions facing officers on the ground at the time.

“I agree the force were right to opt for a self referral in this instance, and I know they are also thoroughly evaluating the incident internally.”