A total of six bikes have been seized and five people have been arrested following a crackdown on off-road bikers across the county.
Officers from the Roads Policing Unit in both vehicles and their own off-road bikes, the local Neighbourhood Policing Teams and colleagues from the National Police Air Service (NPAS) all worked together on the operation yesterday (Sunday 14th June) following an increase in reports of nuisance bikers in Stoke-on-Trent.
The operation, starting at 1pm, targeted anti-social and criminal use of off-road motorcycles and saw officers in both marked and unmarked vehicles focusing on those offending with the help of a NPAS plane overhead.
A quad bike with an adult and a child on board were seized and the driver was reported for no insurance. An off-road motorbike in the fields near Abbey Road was also caught by officers being ridden by teenagers without helmets. Officers followed the motorcycle and the driver was reported for no insurance and riding on common land.
Another motorcycle failed to stop for officers on Beverley Drive but was later followed and a man was detained and the bike was seized. An 18-year-old man from Stoke-on-Trent was arrested on suspicion of driving a motor vehicle dangerously, driving without a licence, theft of a motor vehicle and using a motor vehicle without insurance.
A 27-year-old man was arrested by officers after failing to stop on the A50. With the help of air support, the motorcycle and rider were located and the bike was seized. He was arrested on suspicion of driving a motor vehicle dangerously, driving with no licence, driving a motor vehicle with a proportion of a specified controlled drug above the specified limit, theft of a motor vehicle and using a motor vehicle without insurance.
A mini-moto was caught around the fields off Abbey Lane with a young child with no helmet. NPAS followed the vehicle for 15 minutes which then led to the arrest of a 26-year-old man from Stoke-on-Trent.
He was arrested on suspicion of driving a motor vehicle dangerously, driving a motor vehicle otherwise in accordance with a licence, driving a vehicle whilst unfit through drugs, failing to stop and using a motor vehicle without insurance.
All those arrested have been released under investigation pending further enquiries.
The operation was part of Staffordshire Police’s Operation Lightning, which aims to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on the roads of Staffordshire and to disrupt and deter criminals from using the road network.
Ian Vause, Assistant Operations Director (north east and central) for the National Police Air Service (NPAS) said: “Yesterday, we provided four and a half hours unbroken air support to assist our Staffordshire Police colleagues with Operation Lightning.
“An NPAS aeroplane safely tracked and located offenders whilst being in full communication with officers on the ground. This resulted in multiple bikes being seized and multiple people arrested.
“The National Police Air Service provide support to all 43 police forces across England and Wales from their national fleet of police helicopters and aeroplanes.
“This outcome shows that this support is a vital tool available to police forces to help keep the public safe. We’re pleased to have been able to support Staffordshire Police.”
Chief Inspector Mat Derrick, who heads the force’s Roads Policing Unit, said: “We’ve received a number of reports off nuisance bikers across Stoke-on-Trent over the last few weeks. The communities have asked for action and this operation is our on-going commitment to tackling the issues that residents are worried about.
“People are rightly concerned about the use of these bikes as they can pose a real danger to other motorists and even pedestrians – especially if they’re not used on roads and are being used on canal towpaths, pathways or even parks.
“I’d like to stress to the communities affected that we are aware of the issues and will continue to run regular operations such as yesterday’s to tackle the issue. Our Roads Policing Unit added three scrambler bikes to their fleet in December and regularly deploy them across the county to catch those in hard to reach areas. We also have drones that allow us to search in large areas or places where access is limited.
“However, we rely on information from the public to guide our resources to where they are needed most, so it is important that people continue to report these issues, so that we can tackle them. We will continue to take action and have a zero tolerance approach.”