Police train off-road team to tackle 'Mad Max' riders in Sheffield

Off-road bikes in Sheffield
Off-road bikes in Sheffield
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Police insist they are cracking down on masked riders after an MP claimed they are turning parts of Sheffield into something out of Mad Max.

Louise Haigh spoke out in parliament last week about off-road bikers she claimed were menacing thousands of people in the city's parks and estates.

The Sheffield Heeley MP said off-road bikes, quads and mopeds posed a growing problem, and she questioned whether police had the necessary powers and resources to tackle.

She compared scenes in Sheffield to those from Mad Max, the dystopian action film starring Mel Gibson.

"This is a growing problem and one residents are sick of having to put up with," she said following the debate.

"It is simply not acceptable for a small minority to intimidate and threaten thousands of residents by riding often at great speed and causing deliberate disturbance around residential areas.

"We need a zero-tolerance approach to this issue and the bikes should be seized entirely where individuals are causing disturbance and distress. South Yorkshire Police have assured me they are now tackling the problem but they must have the resources to back it up."

Inspector Darren Johnson is leading efforts by South Yorkshire Police to address the problem.

He said officers try to educate drivers about the disturbance their actions could cause, but do not hesitate to clamp down on those who refuse to listen.

The force has trained up a team of around 20 off-road bikers to patrol known hot spots on a pool of nine bikes, partially funded by local authorities in the area.

"We recognised a considerable time ago that this was starting to cause us an issue, not only in South Yorkshire but across the country," said Inspector Johnson.

"Our approach is not just about prosecuting everyone. It's about trying to educate people so they know where they can and can't ride, what documentation they need and most importantly how to avoid injury to themselves and other people.

"But don't take that as a soft approach. We do prosecute anyone who won't listen to us or is deliberately engaging in criminal behaviour, and we will seize their vehicles."

Inspector Johnson said he believed the tactics were beginning to pay dividends.

"Off-road riders will often stop and speak to officers when they see us now because they know we're not just about prosecuting," he said.

"We're working with enthusiast groups and asking riders to sign up to a code of conduct where if they see children playing, people walking their dogs or horse riders they will slow down or stop, so they're sharing the tracks rather than terrorising people."

Ms Haigh's comments appear to have struck a chord with her constituents.

Richard Henderson wrote on Facebook: "About an hour ago we had two masked youths riding up Lees Hall Road on a motorbike, no regard for anyone including their safety."

Henry Nottage commented: "Thanks for raising this. It's a big problem. In the last week I have seen several unlicensed dirt bikes, a quad bike and two cars ride down the pavement in front of my shop and through the lights. Bring back the police!"

And Alun Neil claimed he had to run off the pavement and into the ring road at a crossing near Valley Park School 'because of two idiots wearing face masks and on a scrambler (no plates).

"To be fair one did give me warning by yelling "moowuv, or al snap you in 'ayuf!" he added.