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Heavy reinforcements to combat off-road menace

Crime and safety

Thursday, 25 January 2024
Mayor Chris Cooke with (L-R) Highways Operatives Tommy Rigg and Raza Hussain and Neighbourhood Safety Officer Neil Williams

Some heavy reinforcements have been drafted in to help in the fight against nuisance off-road bikes.

The boulders – some weighing more than a tonne – are being used to restrict access in problem areas and block off paths used as ‘rat-runs’.

The bikes – including motorbikes, quad bikes and electric scooters – have become a key driver of antisocial behaviour and are often linked to organised crime and drug dealing.

The move follows a campaign launched before Christmas warning people of the dangers of using such bikes.

During 2023, Cleveland police received more than 5,500 calls about nuisance bikes, and seized nearly 500 in just seven months.

Now Middlesbrough Council’s Neighbourhood Safety Officers have joined forces with Cleveland Police’s Neighbourhood Policing Team to disrupt and deter off-road trouble-makers.

One blackspot identified by the team was the Black Path to the rear of Roworth Road in the town’s Brambles & Thorntree ward, with motorbikes and quads being used to transport drugs between Middlesbrough and Redcar.

Steel barriers and fences were found to have been removed and hedges cut back to allow easier access, also leading to an increase in illegal fly-tipping.

Now seven boulders have been lifted into place at key access points, and gates have been chained and locked, with the approach set to be replicated at problem areas across the town.

Middlesbrough Mayor Chris Cooke, who visited the Roworth Road site to talk to the Neighbourhood Safety team installing the boulders, said: “We need to get the basics of community safety right and it is great to be starting on these projects.

“These bikes are not just a nuisance to everyone who has to endure them, they’re involved in serious, organised crime, and they’re putting lives at risk.

“This is a great initiative to disrupt and deter this selfish and antisocial behaviour, and I look forward to seeing the approach used in other parts of the town.”

Anyone with information regarding off-road bikes, where they are being stored or anyone using them illegally can call Cleveland Police on 101 or go to Crimestoppers online.