COMMUNITIES blighted by the dangerous, anti-social and illegal use of off-road bikes are being urged to speak out anonymously to help police take them off the streets in a new campaign launched today (Thursday March 10th).
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy has joined forces with crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers and Merseyside Police to launch the initiative which encourages people to come forward with information about the location of unlicensed and uninsured bikes so they can be seized.
The campaign will see leaflets being delivered to up to 15,000 homes in ‘hotspot’ areas across Merseyside, asking people to give information about the use of nuisance bikes and where they are being stored anonymously to Crimestoppers, who are only interested in what information callers have, not who they are.
Today a giant ‘ad-van’ featuring the campaign message will travel around areas which have already been seriously affected by the misuse of off-road bikes, including Stockbridge Village, Bootle and Litherland, while a radio campaign will also take the message into thousands of households across Merseyside.
CCTV footage, captured by City Watch, has also been released to highlight the dangerous way the bikes are being used. The video clip shows a number of examples including a group of riders driving dangerously around the city centre on Christmas day, riders driving through red lights and through Chavasse Park and one rider holding up traffic ‘doughnutting’ by using their handbrake to repeatedly spin their bike.
The launch comes just 9 days after 20-year-old James Kinsella, from Bootle, was jailed for 12 months after being caught on camera riding an off-road motorbike through the Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle on January 7th this year, narrowly missing shoppers including mums with prams.
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “The footage we are releasing today, and that from last week of James Kinsella driving wildly through the streets of Merseyside, show just a few examples of how these bikes are being used to terrorise neighbourhoods and cause misery and suffering to law-abiding members of society.
“Not only are these bikes noisy, intimidating and dangerous, they are contributing to anti-social behaviour and we know they are being used by gangs who are committing serious crime by transporting drugs and weapons.
“I have heard time and time again from residents that they want us to put a stop to this kind of behaviour. That’s why we are launching this campaign today – taking the message out into some of the worst affected areas that we do take this behaviour very seriously and the police will take these bikes off the streets, but we need the public’s help!
“By providing information anonymously to Crimestoppers about where these unlicensed, uninsured bikes are being stored and who is using them, the public can help the police to find them and seize them.
“There is absolutely no need for callers to give their name or any of their personal details. They don’t even need to speak to the police. They can tell Crimestoppers in private and in confidence. By doing so, they will be helping to make their communities safer.”
Following the launch in Stockbridge Village today, the day the ad-van will visit the surrounding areas, before touring Toxteth and Dingle and Bootle and Litherland and over the next couple of weeks, leaflets and posters will also be distributed across key hotspot areas in Liverpool 8, Sefton, Kirkby and the Wirral.
Merseyside Police also recently ran a poster competition across schools in Bootle, Seaforth and Litherland aimed at engaging with younger pupils, and helping them to express how they feel about the antisocial use of these bikes.
Merseyside Police’s Superintendent Jenny Simms said: “Nuisance riders have a real impact on the lives of lots of people across Merseyside.
“We have seen incidents of scrambler and off-road bikes being ridden in a dangerous and anti-social way, often on public highways. I want to send a clear message to the people riding these bikes that we will not tolerate anti-social behaviour and we will continue to take action to seize those bikes we believe have been used in this way.
“Cracking down on these bikes is a real priority for us but we cannot tackle this problem alone. We need our communities to be our eyes and ears to tell us who are using these bikes and where they are being stored. We will act on all the information we receive and use every power that is available to the Force to search both inside and outside premises.
“Operation Brookdale is an example of our continuing commitment to getting these bikes off the road. In just a three month period last year we seized 176 scrambler and off-road bikes and arrested a total of 59 people. I want to reassure our communities that work will continue to be done to tackle this issue.”
Crimestoppers in Merseyside receives over 4,000 pieces of anonymous information each year, which lead to a significant number of arrests and positive action taking against those who seek to damage our communities.
Crimestoppers’ North West Regional Manager Gary Murray said: “I would appeal to the public to contact us about where these bikes are stored and who is using them.
“Together we can get these bikes off the streets and make them safer for your family. We do not know the identity of anyone who contacts us or cannot trace your call, we just want your information, not your name”.
Anyone with information about where these bikes are being stored or has any information should contact Crimestoppers anonymously 24/7 on 0800 555 111.
Information can also be passed anonymously through the charity’s website at https://crimestoppers-uk.org
Take a look at this footage captured by City Watch demonstrating how the bikes are used: