Neighbourhoods in Oldham are being blighted by ‘illegal dirt bikes’ being ridden at ‘all hours’ and a spate of antisocial behaviour and crime, councillors have been told.
The issues of in the areas of Derker and Sholver, north of the town centre, were raised at a meeting of the full council. However bosses said the ability of Greater Manchester Police to pursue people riding off-ride bikes and dirt bikes was being restricted by the riders not wearing helmets.
But where people are involved in crime such as vehicle stealing, the storage and transportation of illegal bikes, action could also be taken against them by their housing provider including ‘tenancy enforcement action’.
During public question time, a question submitted by resident Joshua Charters asked: “In St James Ward there has been a lot of antisocial behaviour and crime over the past few months, with people riding illegal dirt bikes at all hours in Derker and Sholver and cars being stolen regularly in Sholver.
“Is the council working with GMP to address this and how can we see what’s been done?”
During the meeting, councillor Angela Cosgrove, who represents St James ward, also asked what work the authority was doing to ‘address antisocial behaviour and the use of off-road bikes and unrestricted electric bikes’ in her ward, and the rest of the borough.
In response, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, Coun Hannah Roberts, said the use of off-road bikes and vehicle crime was ;a concern for us all’, both in Sholver and Derker and across Oldham.
She added: “Unfortunately the GMP specialist off-road bikes team is a very small force-wide resource which is in significant demand. Riding off-road bikes on the road is a very dangerous activity and many riders do not wear headgear – this restricts the opportunities for pursuit and enforcement at the time, even by the specialist team.
“Resolution of this issue requires a much wider long term problem solving approach and council colleagues from across a variety of services are working with GMP’s neighbourhood policing teams and the new neighbourhood prevention hub to address this as a key priority. It remains important that reports are made to GMP, with as much detail being provided as possible, such as vehicle details and registration numbers if available.
“There are a number of legal powers which can be used, not just against those riding the bikes, but against those involved in the storage and transportation of them. Intelligence regarding where vehicles are being stored and the vehicles which bring off-road bikes to a site is key to identifying the individuals involved and the potential seizure of the bikes, using the available legislation.”
She also told councillors: “There is a robust response to serious acquisitive crime, which includes the theft of vehicles and this is also a local priority. Community safety services are working with the neighbourhood crime team to take action, including making applications for criminal behaviour orders, against those identified as responsible for car thefts.
“Community safety services is working with other partners in the district, and will use all the powers available to tackle these types of behaviours. For example they will share information and evidence with housing providers to enable tenancy enforcement action to be taken too, where it is appropriate to do so.”