'Shocked' Keir Starmer accuses police of 'animal cruelty' after runaway cow rammed five times with squad car

17 June 2024, 14:12 | Updated: 17 June 2024, 14:45

Keir Starmer said he was "really shocked" at the footage
Keir Starmer said he was "really shocked" at the footage. Picture: Getty/Twitter/Facebook

By Flaminia Luck

Sir Keir Starmer has described shocking footage of a police car ramming into a cow five times as "animal cruelty".

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Footage initially emerged on Saturday of Surrey Police officers hitting the cow twice in a bid to restrain it before it was left wounded in a park for two hours.

In the latest video posted to social media, the cow runs around a residential area of Staines before being hit by the police car for what the Facebook user said was the "3rd or 4th attempt" and remaining on the ground for over two minutes.

On Monday, when asked by reporters in Southampton, the Labour leader said: "I was really shocked when I saw that footage and I think anybody who saw that footage would be shocked.

"I think you'll correct me if I'm wrong, the officer has been taken off frontline duties.

"But yeah, I was shocked.

"I'm 100% in agreement with the callers into LBC this morning I suspect the rest of the country do as well, by the way."

Warning: some readers may find the below footage disturbing

Footage shows one of the times Surrey Police ram escaped cow

Surrey Police have confirmed the officer who was filmed deliberately driving the vehicle into the animal has been removed from the frontline.

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

"At this time, the officer who was driving the police car has been removed from frontline duties pending the outcome of these investigations," he added.

It comes as the owner of a cow called for the officers involved to be fired.

Read more: New ‘heartbreaking’ videos show close up of ‘3rd or 4th attempt’ as police ram 4x4 into terrified cow

The footage has sparked outrage
The footage has sparked outrage. Picture: Facebook/Twitter

Police said that it had been reported to them that the cow had run at people and also damaged a car.

Kate, the partner of the farmer who owns the cow, said: "Honestly, when I saw the video, I thought he should lose his job.

"I just thought it was disgusting, I couldn't believe it," she told Sky News.

"I don't know if it was his decision to drive at the animal or whether he was instructed to, but the police, when they got out of the car looked pretty agitated themselves."

She said it was a shame she hadn't been contacted by the police about the cow or called a vet to use a tranquiliser on it.

Kate said the cow "wasn't that out of control, just spooked".

She added: "I can only imagine the police that did it have no idea about farm animals.

"Kate added that the cow may have escaped by swimming across a river next to the field it was grazing in.

Read more: Fury grows as shock footage shows police ramming escaped cow with squad car

Read more: Shock as police ram escaped cow on the street, as officers say it 'was hurt while being moved to safety'

Escaped cow that was rammed by a police car is 'one of the worst cases of animal cruelty', says campaigner

She said the cow has now been seen by a vet and is eating and drinking again, but was "really agitated" and "really scared".

"I don't know whether she will live," she said. "She could have died of the shock but hopefully she'll live."

Footage of the incident shocked viewers, with even the Home Secretary weighing in.

James Cleverly said: "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."

Jeremy Clarkson also weighed in on the situation on Twitter.

He said in a social media post: "I will vote for any party which stops the police from running over cows."

Read more: Alan Hansen ‘on the mend’ and sounding ‘fabulous’ says his friend Graeme Souness

Following the emergence of the footage, Surrey Police issued a statement, with the force noting it responded to reports of a loose cow in Staines-upon-Thames at around 8.55pm on Friday evening.

The police said that 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.

"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. This matter has been referred to our Professional Standards Department."

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has been notified and a voluntary referral will be made in due course."

Police officers that rammed their car into an escaped cow 'need suspending', says caller

The cow was eventually moved to a nearby farm during the early hours of June 15, according to the force, assisted by a member of the public.

Following the news, a spokesperson for the Independent Office for Police Conduct said: “We have been notified by Surrey Police about this incident and that a referral will be made in due course.

"When we receive it we will carry out an assessment to determine what further action is required by us.”

'Hugely distressing'

Emma Slawinski, RSPCA Director of Policy, said: "We would always recommend that, for example, police forces are trained in how to deal with animals and in fact I know that happens with a lot of particularly rural police forces. They're often in touch with farmers as well, of course, because farmers have big machinery, they might need to be moved or, you know, they tend to have good relationships with their local police force.

"So there may have been other options that could have been considered taking some expert advice, for example, but it's not really appropriate for me to comment because I don't know the circumstances here.

"All I can say from the video is that it is hugely distressing. It's horrible to watch and action does need to be taken, and it does appear to be a completely disproportionate reaction to what was happening."

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