Yorkshire police boss calls for new national licensing system for quad bikes following sharp rise in rural crime

A Yorkshire police boss has discussed the possibility of a new national licensing system for quad bikes following a rise in rural crime involving the vehicles in the county.

Police bosses have heard how some motorbike and quad riders terrorise farmland in Doncaster ‘destroying crops, breaking down gates’ and even killing animals.

Bikers venturing onto the land, breaking down gates and fences, destroying crops, disturbing wildlife and, in some cases, chasing and killing animals such as hares and deer, often cruelly, are becoming a common occurrence in Doncaster, causing South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings to intervene.

Dr Billings recently met with farmers and their families in the north of the Doncaster district to discuss the growing nuisance of quad and off-road bikes and he heard first-hand accounts of the problems they are facing.

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Dr Billings said: "The farming community should not have to endure this kind of wanton vandalism and criminality. It affects people’s well-being and presents a serious threat to livelihoods. I will certainly think hard about the ideas the farmers put forward and what more we can do to assist.”

At the meeting he was joined by police officers from the neighbourhood team and the police roads team. They spoke about how the police had responded to the growing nuisance of quad and off-road bikes by creating a full-time police team of bikers.

They have already had some success. In Hatfield, a number of bikes have been seized with fines issued and arrests made.

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A further 30 warnings were issued and over 50 fines were handed out for breaches of Covid-19 legislation.

Dr Billings confirmed additional funding had been allocated for the work to be expanded this year, with more officers to be trained to deal with rural crimes. A rural crime time is also being set up that will be based within the mounted team at Ring Farm in Barnsley.

Dr Billings said: "Despite all this, the main problem is that neither the neighbourhood officers nor the bike team can be everywhere.

"The meeting discussed the possibility of bringing in nationally a system of licensing for quad bikes, rather as certain types of drone and shotguns were licensed. The farmers had already spoken to the local MP, Ed Miliband about this and I have said I will follow it up."

The group are expected to meet again in a few weeks time to discuss if any progress has been made.