Home Secretary calls for ‘urgent explanation’ after police stop cow with car

The Home Secretary James Cleverly has asked for a “full, urgent explanation” as to why officers appeared to use a police car to ram an escaped cow.

Mr Cleverly said it seemed “unnecessarily heavy handed” while wildlife presenter and conservationist Chris Packham asked: “What sort of monster rams a calf?”

The RSPCA described the footage as “upsetting and distressing” and said the police “action appears disproportionate to the situation”.

It came after footage appeared online which showed the young cow 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?”.

The cow got to its feet after the first strike, before being hit again by the car a second time.

It then remains on the ground, and officers get out to assess the situation.

Officers later said that the cow sustained a large cut to its leg and was being treated.

Surrey Police said the incident happened on Friday at around 8.55pm after it had received reports that a cow was running loose in Staines-upon-Thames.

In a post on X, former Twitter, Mr Cleverly wrote: “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.”

Mr Packham also posted on X: “I don’t know where to start with this. But it’s surely illegal and must be investigated and prosecuted. What sort of monster rams a calf? Twice?”

Warehouse worker Kai Bennetts, 22, of Feltham, west London, said the cow which looked young, was left with an “open gash” after it was hit by the police car and thrown several metres down the road.

Mr Bennetts, who said he was “disgusted” by what he saw, told the PA news agency: “One of its back right legs had loads of grazes where the skin had come off.”

After the first strike, he said: “It (the cow) tried to get back up, and then they (the police) pushed it back over and blocked it by its neck and top half of his body and so it couldn’t get up.

“Inhumane is all I can say.”

Surrey Police said the cow was running loose throughout the evening on a number of main roads.

The force were responding after being alerted by calls reporting that a car had been damaged and the animal was running at members of the public.

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, the force said.

The police then decided to use the police car to stop the cow.

The force said the matter had been referred to its Professional Standards Department.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has also been notified and a voluntary referral will be made in due course, the spokesman added.

Members of the public helped to move the cow to a nearby farm in the early hours of Saturday.

The owner has been located and a vet has looked at the cow’s injuries.

Chief Inspector Sam Adcock said: “I know that this has caused distress and I’d like to thank the community for their concern.

“The decision to use the police car is one that was only taken after other methods to stop the cow had failed.

“There will be an investigation into the actions that led to this, but our focus at all times is on ensuring the safety of the public.

“I know there are videos circulating of this incident, which the public may find distressing.

“I would ask that these videos are sent directly to us to help with our investigation.”

The RSPCA spokesman said: “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.

“Surrey Police has referred themselves to their own professional standards department and to the Independent Office for Police Conduct. We support this as the action appears disproportionate to the situation.

“We are happy to assist in any investigations carried out.

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

A spokesperson for the IOPC 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.”