Bobbies on the beat, on trail bikes: A new way to police one of England's most remote beats
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Trail motorbikes ridden by the police and paid for by criminals are making their mark on crime in one of England's most rural areas.
The two Honda CRF motorcycles have helped officers search for burglars in remote communities, target drug dealers, tackle anti-social behaviour and much more.
They also create more opportunities for community engagement, with members of the public and even some known criminals approaching police riders for a chat!
The motorbikes are currently on a lease arrangement that is funded by proceeds of crime legislation. This allows assets seized from convicted offenders to be redirected into crime prevention initiatives.
Officers are highlighting the new transport as part of Neighbourhood Policing Week – a nationwide event starting today (Monday 22 January) to draw attention to local policing and how it is delivered.
Police motorcyclist PC Chris Coleman, of Richmondshire Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “When I ride one of our trail bikes, I can cover large areas of countryside very efficiently.
“I can travel across terrains that other vehicles can’t, which is a huge bonus when you’re responding to crime and anti-social behaviour in such a rural district.
“We’ve used them these bikes make arrests, but when we’re on patrol residents are also more likely to stop you and have a conversation or share information than if you were in a car or van. They may only have two wheels, but they have dozens of uses.”
Since the bikes were introduced earlier this year, the riders in Richmondshire have:
Searched for and found missing people in remote areas
Attended reports of burglaries and searched for burglars
Detained suspects who ran from police stops, including into parks and fields
Taken part in community engagement events, including meeting families in Richmond Market Square, crowds at country shows and Christmas markets
Attended remote, rural crashes quickly
Helped to police the local night-time economy
Targeted drug dealers and deployed to known drug-dealing hotspots
Prevented illegal riding, taking part in off-road education events, and located and seized uninsured quad bikes
Regularly patrolled Richmondshire’s communities, including very remote hamlets and farms
Covered areas near schools at peak times to maintain road safety
Rather than buying the two motorbikes outright, North Yorkshire Police is currently leasing them at cost from a local company, AMR in Bellerby near Leyburn, who wanted to give something back to their community.
The force has the option to buy them at a later date. Officers have also been given special permission to ride on some footpaths, including by Richmond Falls.
PC Coleman said: “The bikes are significantly cheaper to run than four-wheeled vehicles, as well as being more environmentally friendly.
“They give far better fuel economy, which is important in rural districts like Richmondshire where police have to cover large distances.”
The force is gathering information about the effectiveness of the motorbikes, which can be used in the future to consider similar schemes in other parts of the county.