Police seek prosecutions following posting of online videos
Police in the Peak District vowed in January 2018 to take more illegal off-road bikers off the road and out of the countryside if they are damaging our natural environment.
The pledge came as police carried out dawn raids in Grimsby and Cleethorpes areas after identifying suspects and seizing their bikes.
Sergeant Dan Healey from Grimsby Community Policing Team said bikers would be hunted down because of the damage they are causing to areas of outstanding natural beauty and also areas of special scientific interest.
He praised the collaboration between all police forces in the country to stamp out thrill-seeking riders who tear through private land, along bridleways and footpaths.
He highlighted the co-operation between forces, and said Police are targeting offenders who are being identified thanks to social media, drones, nightscopes and if needed a police helicopter will be drafted in.
Sergeant Healey said: “While we support and condone safe motorcycling, we cannot condone the destruction of protected areas across any part of the country which are meant to be enjoyed by everyone.
“We are very pleased with the results today. It sends out a warning to anyone who commits crime in any part of the country that police forces will collaborate on such operations, and that we work hard together to bring those who commit crimes to justice.”
He said riders could cause damage if they were careless and inconsiderate, or by riding off legal routes.
A number of riders were arrested in the raids in the Grimsby area, as they were alleged to have caused damage to sites of significant interest, as well as roads and pathways and legally-protected flowers and fauna.
Officers from Humberside Police and Cheshire Police seized four KTM and two Husqvarna off-road bikes at a series of addresses in Grimsby and Cleethorpes.
The operation, which began around 6am, centred on properties at St Christopher's Road, Humberston, Sunningdale and Woodhall Drive in Waltham, Bramhall Street and Nelson Way, Grimsby.
The police action came with a warning to other off-road bikers who cause damage: “We know who you are. We will find you and we will seize your bikes.”
Five Humberside Police officers assisted by two volunteer Special officers and a team from Cheshire Police Rural Crime Team carried out the raids.
The operation was in response to a group of men causing damage to areas of outstanding natural beauty and special scientific interest in the Peak District National Park.
Sergeant Rob Simpson, of the Cheshire Constabulary said the arrests of the seven men were in relation to criminal damage caused to footpaths, bridleways and private land in the National Park.
He said damage had been caused in the Macclesfield area where riders had been identified riding without due care and consideration.
The investigation was assisted by GLASS members in Derbyshire, who spotted a YouTube video showing illegal trail riding, realised the activity shown was illegal, and helped Cheshire police analyse the video.
The police identified the culprits and realised they were a group from ‘out of area’, so liaised with the Humberside force.
Sergeant Simpson said: “With fantastic support from Humberside Police the seven men saw their off-road bikes seized and hauled away.
“Thanks to the assistance of Humberside Police we have been able to launch a successful operation.
“Cheshire has beautiful countryside that is here for the enjoyment of everyone and so anyone who ruins it for others will be robustly dealt with. These arrests send a clear message to those that commit these type of crimes that where ever you are, whoever you are, we are prepared to come and get you.”
He added: “We are happy for people to enjoy their sport so long as they act responsibly.
“They can cause thousands of pounds worth of damage. In a site of special scientific interest you can’t put a value on the damage caused.”
The police thanked GLASS for their assistance in the operation. Chris Mitchell, the Derbyshire Area Rep for GLASS, said “Our members are bound by a code of conduct which requires them to use only road legal vehicles or bikes, and to use only roads or byways. Illegal ‘off-road’ activity on motor bikes or in 4x4s not only damages the countryside, but brings responsible drivers into disrepute as the public image of green laning is adversely affected.”
The bikes seized by the police, some of which were identified in a YouTube video.