Home Secretary James Cleverly has demanded an urgent explanation after a police car was filmed deliberately being driven into a cow twice.

A video of the incident began circulating on social media this morning and shows a loose cow falling and skidding metres down a road after being hit by the vehicle.

As the animal seems to be trying to get back on its feet, the car approaches for a second time.

The cow's head and part of its torso appear to be stuck underneath the front of the vehicle as two officers get out. A second police car can be seen on an adjoining street.

Surrey Police said it will refer itself to the police complaints watchdog following the incident.

The force said in a statement that after attempts to safely capture the cow “over a period of a number of hours” failed, “the decision was made to stop it using a police car”.

WARNING: The following clip contains upsetting footage.

In a post on X, 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."

Surrey Police has issued a statement on the matter, saying it responded to reports of a cow running loose in Staines-upon-Thames at around 8.55pm on Friday.

It had received "numerous calls from the public reporting a car being damaged" and the animal running at people.

"Officers... over a period of a number of hours tried a number of options to safely capture the cow," the police statement read.

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

The cow was then moved to a nearby farm with help from members of the public in the early hours of this morning.

The RSPCA has released a statement on the "upsetting and distressing footage" and said it "urgently contacted" police as soon as it was made aware of the incident.

"All animals should be treated with respect," the charity added. "Together we can create a better world for all animals."

TV presenter and conservationist Chris Packham 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?"

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The matter has been referred to the police's professional standards department and the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has been notified.

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."

Police have asked for videos of the "distressing" incident to be sent to them to help with the investigation.