FAO: Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner.
Good morning Mr Cuthbert,
I write openly in regards to nuisance off-road motorbikes in the Newport area. I enclose below a freedom of information request returned to me yesterday from Gwent Police.
There were a total of 869 phone calls made to Gwent Police (year-to-date) relating to nuisance off-road motorbikes. 20 motorbikes have been confiscated in this time period, although they are returned after a payment of £150 is made.
I am slightly puzzled as to why the Police are not pressing charges against offenders who are caught? The FOI reveals not one person was arrested with a view to being charged and prosecuted. I have to admit, I am slightly shocked by this.
Under Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002 it is illegal to drive an off-road motorbike in a manner that causes alarm, distress or annoyance to members of the public.
This issue is currently a hot topic in Newport at present. These nuisance joy-riders are racing around pedestrian pavements where young children play, they are very loud and I’ve seen surface damage on grassy areas and at the Glebelands Park. Sometimes they’re racing around at 1am. It’s very frustrating and upsetting for residents. The situation is presently ‘out-of-control’ in some areas and I know some City Councillors have highlighted the issue.
The issue was even raised recently at a full council meeting on the 25th July 2017 – in the main Council Chamber. Police were present at this meeting and gave assurances that they were clamping down on the situation.
I fully understand it is difficult to gather sufficient evidence to be able to prosecute, however some of the offenders must have been caught red-handed? I’m aware of one incident where a motorbike drove ‘head on’ past a Police car and was caught. These motorbikes often drive dangerously on the roads and pavements, with no registration.
I must stress, our local PSCOs work extremely hard and do a tremendous job, but I would be extremely grateful if you could clarify the Police Force position on this? My personal view is that merely confiscating bikes and then returning them after a £150 payment is made, is not serving as a strong enough deterrent.
By prosecuting – you would be sending a firm ‘zero tolerance’ message out to the public. You would also be able to highlight such cases to the media as examples of ‘caught and in court’.
This is an open letter.