POLICE and other services have been urged to get a grip on an ‘emerging’ problem with nuisance riders in County Durham.
Lockdown and other restrictions imposed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic have seen more families making the most of rural beauty spots and other outdoor attractions.
But concerns for public safety are rising following an apparent spike in reports of anti-social behaviour and other crime related to motorbikes and off-road quad bikes.
“It’s going to be a complex issue because we have a part-rural, part-urban county,” said Rob Crute, county councillor for Blackhalls.
“We have a lot of countryside, we have a lot of coastline, a lot of public footpaths and a lot of heritage in the county.
“The damage has gotten quite serious and that’s not regarding public safety as well, which has to be the key point.
“People are walking their dogs or having a stroll, which they are encouraged to do more through this pandemic than ever before, but they’re being put at greater risk because of people going into public open spaces and on to footpaths on bikes.”
Cllr Crute was speaking at Monday’s meeting of Durham County Council’s Safer and Stronger Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.
The panel heard an update on the progress of the Safe Durham Partnership Plan for 2021 – 2025, which is supposed to outline approaches to tackling issues such as crime and substance abuse by key organisations such as the county council, police and fire and rescue services.
The issue of nuisance riders has been growing across the North East in recent years.
In South Tyneside, tens of thousands of pounds have been allocated for anti-bike measures, including signs and barriers due to concerns.
Police in the borough even rolled out a ‘DNA spray’ in an attempt to catch offenders by ‘tagging’ bikes and their riders with a unique liquid, allowing them to be linked later, without officers having to pursue them.
And last month (February) it was revealed Northumbria Police had seized several quad bikes in Sunderland, following a clampdown in the city.