Author: Naomi Dunbar

Police are heavily cracking down on illegal off-road motorcycling

Welsh off-road motorcycling police team

Over the last few months, there has been a significant increase of motorcyclists partaking in illegal off-road motorcycling in the British countryside. The police have been cracking down by patrolling heavily affected areas, and seizing and destroying the bikes of criminal offenders.

Dedicated police teams tackling illegal and anti-social off-road motorcycling have been patrolling to the worst affected areas, such as Sheffield, south Wales, Birmingham and Nottingham. Authorities have been working very closely with the Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF) to help clamp-down on the growing problem.

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In south Sheffield alone, 331 calls were made to 101 in August 2017 by residents reporting illegal motorcycling incidents in the area. This figure dramatically dropped to 85 calls in November 2017, due to authorities working to crack down on the issue. 64 riders were stopped and issued with written warnings for anti-social riding, 17 motorcycles were seized after being ridden in an anti-social manner, and 17 motorcycles were seized for having no insurance.

The purpose of the off-road motorycling police teams, was to enable officers to engage with and educate off-road bikers who are riding illegally, and to encourage them to correct their behavior. The TRF has shown the police a framework in which to work to and it follows a three point rule of action; education, engineering and enforcement.

Education is given out on the web, social media, council websites, OS maps, at exhibitions and at country shows manned by the TRF. It’s also given via responsible commercial trail riding companies. Engineering covers the physical deterrents used by the authorities such as clear signage and course barriers. Then finally, enforcement is the last resort taken to catch the persistent law breakers where all other methods failed.

When speaking to Chair of the TRF Mario Costa-Sa, yesterday about the recent crack down he said: “The crack down on illegal off-roading by the police should be supported by all lawful bikers who care about lawful public access, and protecting their property from theft as well as their own responsibilities when riding on green roads. If the opportunities to ride anti-socially and illegally are curtailed, lawful trail riders can only benefit.

We appreciate that occasionally a rider intending be lawful may get caught in a police operation. Organisations such as the TRF exist to inform riders of where and how to ride lawfully on green roads open to motorcycle licence holders using road legal machines. The ACU is an example of an organisation of local clubs where where non-licence holders including kids can train and ride motorcycles safely and responsibly off the road.”

When speaking to the Monmouthshire Beacon regarding the crack down in Wales, PC Chris Butt said: “This was an innovative and new approach to try and locate and engage with off road bikers and I am extremely pleased with the response we had from the bikers whom we spoke to, and members of the public who we spoke to during the operation. I would like to thank all of the TRF members and Natural Resources Wales who worked with us in the first two phases of Op Woodland.

This will be an ongoing initiative to try and reduce the problem of illegal and anti-social off road biking, something that is a big concern to many rural residents. I understand the frustration that bikers feel about the perceived lack of places for them to legally enjoy off-roading, however, this is no excuse to break the law. Going forward, we will be working with our partners and the local authority to identify and sign post areas where bikers can ride legally.”

A horse and motorcycle on a green lane

Here at ABR, we like nothing better than a leisurely pootle along some of our local green lanes on a Sunday morning, but, as I’m sure many of you also know, we have to be vigilant in knowing exactly where and how it is legal to do so. If you’re unsure of the legalities around green laning, then you should check out our article highlighting which green lanes you can legally ride. You should also be aware of how to deal with horses when green laning in the UK, because you’re more than likely to come across them on your green laning travels.

The TRF have been representing trail rider’s interests since 1970, and they offer training and support to all their members. Regular ABR contributor Andrew Dalton, is an active TRF member and is part of the extensive TRF legal team who defend members should they be challenged by the authorities incorrectly. If you would like to find out more about the organisation head over to the TRF website.