Police claim 'poor public response' over rogue bikers crackdown in South Tyneside

Police have suggested fears over nuisance riders in South Tyneside may have been overblown.

A Northumbria Police officer tests out a DNA spray as Pc Mike 'Spike' Fisher rides by.
A Northumbria Police officer tests out a DNA spray as Pc Mike 'Spike' Fisher rides by.

But the ‘poor’ public response to the latest attempt by officers to get to grips with antisocial behaviour (ASB) linked to motorbikes has prompted questions for some bosses.

“Motorcycle ASB, I know, is a concern, particularly around Fellgate and Hedworth and any area which has a burn or a dene or grassland,” said Sergeant Ecclestone, of Northumbria Police.

“We have done quite a significant amount, there was a leaflet drop recently with the local council where we dropped 2,000 leaflets.

“I’ll be honest, the response to that was really poor from the public – we had one that email in response to 2,000 leaflets.

“Either people are too busy with their day-to-day lives, or it’s not as bad as we think, maybe it’s a tolerance issue with certain residents [but] my suspicion would be it’s probably a little bit of both.”

Sgt Ecclestone was speaking at a meeting of the Jarrow and Boldon Community Area Forum (CAF) on June 3, the first time the panel has met in person, rather than by videolink, for more than a year.

He added reports of incidents in places such as Follingsby Park may have ‘skewed’ figures, claiming the ‘real harm’ was being inflicted in residential areas.

At least 32 warnings have been issued to suspected offenders under so-called section 59 powers, which allow officers to notify drivers if they are suspected of having caused ‘alarm, distress or annoyance’ to the public and raising the possibility of officers later confiscating their vehicles.

However, police still face a battle to get offending bikes off the road, often relying on ‘hearsay evidence’ which may make seizing vehicles difficult.

Housing bosses, however, have been advised that inappropriate storage of such motorbikes may also offer an opportunity for them to be seized through ‘tenancy enforcement’ proceedings.

Sgt Ecclestone added plans are also in the works to make identifying nuisance riders easier.

He said: “Catching bikers is a totally different issue, we have some plans afoot which involves purchasing equipment which we will hopefully roll out to start identifying people while they are on the bikes.”

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