Police take action on anti-social motorbikes across countryside in South Yorkshire
More than 4,500 reports of anti-social motorcycling across farms, bridleways, paths and green spaces have been made to South Yorkshire Police so far this year.
The force has a dedicated off-Road Bike Intervention Team (ORBIT) which is making sure motorbikes are used in a way that does not cause problems for horse-riders, pedestrians and cyclists and has already clocked up more than 3,000 hours patrolling outdoor areas from rural farms to streets.
During their patrols, operations and responding, the team has seized more than 37 vehicles believed to be stolen, worth an estimated £203,000, and returned them where possible to their owners.
Alongside assisting officers in searching for vulnerable people or evidence, the team’s focus is the anti-social use of off-road bikes and vehicles that can cause harm or injury to people, animals and land.
South Yorkshire Police said that while there are dedicated tracks for the use of these vehicles across the UK, and those with permission from a landowner they can be ridden on private land, there are still riders across the region which continue to use public pathways, bridleways and farmer’s land – which poses a risk and problem.
“We are a full-time team that works alongside those who enjoy the sport, but will not tolerate illegal riding from those who cannot follow the rules.
“Our communities strengthen our work, the intelligence and reports you provide enable us to understand where there are problematic areas and those responsible.”
During the pandemic, the force experienced an unprecedented number of complaints from members of the public around the illegal and dangerous use of off-road bikes.
Last year, the team seized a total of 136 bikes from riders that were either believed to be stolen, uninsured or for driving offences and made 15 arrests.
There are fears the majority of these bikes have been stolen from farms where quads are a legitimate and essential piece of kit for herding animals, especially for lambing season.
The National Farmers’ Union estimates that around 1,100 quad bikes are stolen from farms each year, costing farmers upwards of £3m to replace or repair.
Earlier this year, Judith Cummins, the MP for Bradford South, proposed a bill to make wearing a helmet compulsory for all quad users on public highways, extending the registration scheme for licensed road-legal quads to cover all quad bikes, including those allowed for off-road use only and police to have more powers to seize quads.
When Kit Malthouse was Minister for State for Crime and Policing he said the government had no plans to bring forward a national strategy and it has since been confirmed the bill will make no further progress.