Surrey police face criticism after using car to ram escaped cow

The home secretary has asked Surrey police to provide a “full, urgent explanation” after footage showed officers using a car to ram an escaped cow.

James Cleverly made the comments after footage posted online showed officers ramming the cow twice with their police car, while an onlooker is heard shouting: “What are you doing that for?”

In a post on X, 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.”

The incident occurred on Friday evening after Surrey police received reports about a cow running around on a number of main roads in the Staines-upon-Thames area. According to police, they received reports that the cow was charging at members of the public and had damaged a car.

The cow got back to its feet after the first strike, but the police car hit it a second time and appeared to come to a stop with the animal underneath the vehicle. A Surrey police spokesperson said they tried to safely capture the cow over a number of hours and explored a number of options before hitting it with a car. The force said the matter had been referred to its professional standards department.

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Officers said the cow suffered a significant cut to its leg and is being treated by vets. An RSPCA spokesperson said: “This is a very upsetting and distressing video to watch. We will be getting in touch with the police urgently to understand the circumstances as to what happened.”

The wildlife activist and presenter Chris Packham told the BBC that he didn’t know “where to start with this. But it’s surely illegal and must be investigated and prosecuted”. He added: “What sort of monster rams a calf? Twice?”

Ch Insp 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.”

With help from locals, the cow was moved to a nearby farm during the early hours of Saturday morning.

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.”