Police appeal for public help to tackle the ‘new scourge’ of ‘silent assassin’ electric bikes in South Tyneside
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For years, the borough has been trying to get to grips with so-called ‘nuisance riders’ on off-road bikes.
But now fresh concerns are mounting over the potential impact of e-bikes on the public.
And such is the level of seriousness, some have even previously branded the latest menace “silent assassins”.
“These new super electric ones that go 50mph-60mph are absolutely silent,” said Sergeant Rob Lloyd, of Northumbria Police.
“We’re not hearing them but they’re still causing the same level of disorder, they’re fleeing along the streets and just missing people, they’re riding the wrong way up roads and are still tearing the grass up around all the grassed areas.
“They’re causing the same issues [as off-road motorbikes] but we’re not getting as many reports in about them – however, they’re just as bad.
“So that’s the new scourge unfortunately”.
Concerns over e-bikes were raised by Sgt Lloyd at South Tyneside Council’s East Shields and Whitburn Community Area Forum (CAF) on Thursday (November 17), who added Northumbria Police officers would attempt to seize electric bikes where possible.
He added: “It’s frightening how fast they can go and we have had reports of young people, or whoever is riding them, coming off and getting horrific injuries.
“But we’re not getting as many reports in as people aren’t hearing it but if people are seeing and hearing anything we’re urging people [to report it].
“It’s difficult because you may think that if they’re travelling slowly it’s just on a push bike because they have got skinny wheels, quite a neat frame and can go slowly if they want to.
"They’re on the path and you think they’re not causing any trouble, but there are no pedals so they are illegal and we would seize them if we got hold of them.
“So we’re again appealing to the public to let us know where they are if possible”.
Efforts to tackle nuisance riders in the borough have previously seen the deployment of ‘DNA spray’ in an attempt to identify and catch suspected offenders, with regional chiefs now discussing plans for an off-road bike track.
Cllr Michael Clare, who represents the borough’s Harton ward, asked whether there was any joint work between police and South Tyneside Trading Standards around the sale of electric scooters leading up to Christmas.
Police said that Trading Standards work mainly focused on alcohol sales and illegal vaping products, and that Central Government guidance was needed over the sale of the vehicles.
Sgt Lloyd added: “Let’s be under no illusion that a lot of them are kids on scooters, they’re 11, 12 and 13-year-old thinking it’s fine.
“Parents are oblivious and are buying very expensive electric scooters thinking it’s a toy, and that their kids can go to school on it and that it’s good for the environment.
“But as soon as the motor rating goes up, it’s illegal”.
Northumbria Police has urged residents to report issues about electric bikes and electric scooters via the ‘tell us something’ section of the force’s website or through the 101 phone line.