Cops take to off-road bikes to tackle quad offenders

By Jonathan Kalmus, June 10, 2011
Two of the helmeted police quad-bike riders ready for action in north Manchester

Two of the helmeted police quad-bike riders ready for action in north Manchester

Police in north Manchester are to mount quad bikes in an operation to tackle anti-social behaviour in Jewish neighbourhoods in Prestwich and Whitefield, but have been told they cannot use them to chase offenders.

Local residents raised concerns at community police meetings about youths illegally riding off-road vehicles in parks and roads. Quad bikes have also been roaring through quiet Jewish neighbourhoods on Saturdays, as Shabbat observance makes residential roads relatively traffic-free.

In the new scheme, codenamed Operation Darch, two police quad bikes will patrol off-road hotspots including the Ringley Road area of Whitefield, Philips Park and Prestwich Clough. But a spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said that while officers had the power to stop riders without proper tax and insurance, issue a court summons and seize their vehicles, they would not be able to use the off-road vehicles to chase offenders - because it is too dangerous.

The spokesman said: "Children have been killed in the jurisdiction of other police forces by being chased on quad bikes. They are to be used as an engagement tool. The idea is to engage with people, using the quad bikes to highlight the dangers of what they are doing."

The operation may also curb thefts from Jewish victims by assailants mounted on off-road vehicles, which have been reported in Salford in previous years. A spokesperson for the Charedi Broughton Park Citizens' Patrol said: "Last summer youths on unlicensed bikes wore balaclavas and stole handbags from passers-by. They were also heard travelling around streets on Shabbat afternoons. Residents don't like the noise, and they also scare people if the riders go onto pavements."

Inspector Mark Kenny said: "Operation Darch is designed to target offenders and reassure the public so they can enjoy the summer months in peace."

Last updated: 2:32pm, June 10 2011