Councillors urge police to do more to tackle nuisance off-road motorbikes

Disgruntled councillors in Sandwell are calling for more action to stop nuisance off-road motorbikes, describing West Midlands Police as “out of touch”.

An off-road bike seized by police
An off-road bike seized by police

Councillors put forward a motion during a full council meeting on Wednesday to ask the leader of Sandwell Council, Kerrie Carmichael, to write to West Midlands Police and the region's crime commissioner, Simon Foster, for the re-introduction of an off-road motorbike team.

The motion, proposed by David Fisher, the leader of Sandwell Conservatives, said: “Council officers, elected members, neighbourhood policing and local residents do a great job trying to tackle off-road motorbikes, but more support is needed.

“With off-road motorbikes being one of the highest reported incidents of anti-social behaviour in Sandwell. The safety of local residents and their pets are at risk with the nuisance they cause, along with the destruction to our parks and green spaces, this cannot continue.”

People who drive off-road motorbikes illegally are one of the highest reasons for anti-social behaviour in Sandwell. It comes as up to 15 off-road motorbikes were spotted down Crankhall Lane towards the Brunswick pub by Labour councillor Simon Hackett, while two men in Warley Woods were spotted on off-road motorbikes damaging parkland in Bearwood. Both incidents occurred in February.

Councillor Fisher added: “I have lived in Sandwell my entire life, and I’ve always known that off-road motorbikes are a major issue. One of my pledges during the election campaign was to tackle off-road motorbikes. Since being elected, I’ve had meetings with Severn Trent who own the sewage treatment works here, which is the meeting point for these illegal off-road motorbikes.

“I recall West Midlands police having a dedicated team many years ago that used to pursue off-road bikers. If we had a dedicated team, this will act as a deterrent and give off-road bikers something to think about. But at the moment, they have a free run, knowing the police don’t pursue [them].

“We also feel the council does not use the powers that it has, to evict or warn council tenants who are found to be in possession of these illegal bikes. I hope this changes.”

Councillor Moore tabled an amendment to the motion calling for the council to write to West Midlands Chief Constable David Thompson.

He also asked the council to write to the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, on the matter.

Councillor Moore said: “The person who can do something about it is not the police and crime commissioner. This is an operational decision, which the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police has taken.

“He could introduce an off-road motorbike team tomorrow. It’s his decision that we haven’t got an off-road motorbike team. Similarly, I don’t see why there isn’t a logical reason why this can’t happen.

“Their reticence to do that is around the law and the guidance around police pursuits and is not a financial decision. That’s why there is a second part of the motion calling for the Home Secretary to review the guidance.

“If there was some more standardised guidance around this for police forces, on this, rather than 43 chief constables in England and Wales doing what they like, I think we would get to the point of where we want to be.”

The amended motion was carried.

Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Moore said: “West Midlands Police are out of touch on this issue and the Chief Constable needs to look again at introducing an off-road motorbike team.

“While residents in Sandwell are being plagued daily by nuisance motorbikes, the police say they cannot introduce a dedicated off-road bikes team.

“West Midlands Police had such a team previously. Other police forces, such as South Yorkshire police, already have successful teams. West Midlands Police’s position on this issue is unjustifiable.”

West Midlands Police said they work with local authorities and housing groups to find those in possession of off-road motorbikes.

A spokesman for the force said: "Few things seem to irritate our communities more than anti-social off-road bikers tearing up grassland and causing a nuisance on the roads.

“That’s why we run regular operations involving traffic units, neighbourhood police, drones and the police helicopter to identify and arrest offenders.

“Off-road bikes are difficult to pursue, as riders often take to grassland, squeeze between bollards or down alleyways to escape our officers.

“But we can monitor them from above using our drones and helicopter and gather evidence to prosecute offenders at a later date.

“And we will also use stingers in the right circumstances to deflate the tyres of bikes being ridden irresponsibly and bring them to a stop.”

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News