South Yorkshire Police Off-Road Bike Team scoop problem solving award

The team of off-road trained officers have been given the award in recognition of them helping to thwart illegally ridden off-road motorcycles

A specialist team of off-road trained officers from South Yorkshire Police have won a problem-solving award in recognition of their commitment to tackling the county’s off-road bike problem.

As the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown came into force, police forces across the country saw an increase in calls relating to off-road bikes and the nuisance they cause. One area hit particularly badly by the problem was South Yorkshire, thanks in part to the force’s proximity to areas such as the Peak District.

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To try and tackle the problem, South Yorkshire Police doubled in size of the existing team, welcoming seven new officers from across its districts. The growth of the team resulted in daily patrols and increasing intelligence gathering to support its operations. 

The police is reporting that the changes had an almost immediate influence, with a dramatic decrease in calls from the public being the net result.

One of the tools used by the team is a very 2020 method of tackling the problem. They set up a Flickr account – view the gallery here – that allows the public to scroll through images of bikes and those riding them. The public can then link the pictures to incidents in their area, helping the team to pinpoint who the riders are and where, and when they like to ride them.

The team then used this intel to create an action plan to make the best use of the resources they had available to them, prioritising the worst affected areas and working with each of the districts on a coordinated approach to target repeat offenders.

And the team’s innovative approach paid off. During May and June, the team made 11 arrests, recovered 49 vehicles, reported 12 people on summons, and issued 102 warnings.

Operational Support Unit’s Superintendent Paul McCurry said:

“As part of our first Operational Support Awards, the team won the category of ‘Problem Solving’.

“The team worked incredibly hard throughout summer to achieve some amazing results and they have shown no signs of slowing down.

“They have continued to take action against those who use our roads, beauty spots, and ruin people’s livelihoods and land through their reckless riding.

“Although the team focuses on tackling those who use off-road bikes in an anti-social manner and in criminality, they also support the force with searching for missing people, assisting ambulance crews in locating injured patients, and searching rural areas. Their work is vital and often helps to save lives. It was a pleasure to present the team with their award.”

Off-Road Bike Team Leader Simon Cooper said:

"We are humbled and shocked to win an award for problem-solving. This recognition has been presented out of the blue, it has caught all the team by surprise but is very much appreciated.

"We are continuing to work hard and create innovative ideas to tackle the off-road bike problem to keep our communities safe."

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