"The crystal ball is broken" Chief inspector urges people to report nuisance motorbikes in Central Bedfordshire

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An appeal has been made for more public reporting of incidents to target nuisance crimes in Central Bedfordshire, with a police officer warning the force’s “crystal ball” is broken in the district.

When Chief Insp Jim Goldsmith, of Bedfordshire Police, became the force’s community policing lead last February it lacked “the tools” to tackle off road motorbiking.

“Our Operation Meteor team of road trained motorcyclists had four bikes and four riders,” he told Central Bedfordshire Council’s police and crime advisory panel.

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“Those officers didn’t work for community policing,” he explained. “You can imagine how difficult that was to get a response to a nuisance bikes issue in a specific area.

Nuisance bikers are a common complaint in communities. Photo by Tim Foster / Getty ImagesNuisance bikers are a common complaint in communities. Photo by Tim Foster / Getty Images
Nuisance bikers are a common complaint in communities. Photo by Tim Foster / Getty Images

“I spoke with CBC community safety and the office of the police and crime commissioner (OPCC). To train another six riders costs £30,000. So I asked the OPCC, putting together a business case, and got the funding.

“Of these, four have been trained and one person is back from a refresher. We’ve more than doubled our ability to respond on those bikes.

“They always focus on the hotspots. One of the things I’ve been saying about Central Beds is the county force’s crystal ball is broken. I need the communities to tell us where these issues are and consistently report them.

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“Houghton Regis has been very good. If it’s not reported, then it’s not entered on our system.”

An investment has been made in a so-called DNA spray, which gives officers not on bikes a chance to deploy it and enables suspects to be identified for earlier offences when eventually stopped, he added.

“We can prove evidentially they were there before, with several powers we can use around that. We run regular monthly operations.

“If a vehicle is being used in an anti-social manner, we can give the driver or rider a warning. We can now use the investment CBC has made with cameras across the district.

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“Six off road bikes have been seized during the first complete month, although there are still challenges with identification of some individuals.

“It’s that appeal to the public. If you’ve images of any offenders there, ‘can we have them please’? If you know who these people are, can you tell us? Community safety is about working together.

“On tactical contact with bikes, we all use the same pursuit policy. For high end offences that tactic will be implemented. It will never be authorised for a bike on a pavement or in an alley.”

Conservative Heath and Reach councillor Mark Versallion suggested: “There’s a general view we’re being far too risk adverse and not reflecting the appetite of the public to address the issue more strictly.”

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Liberal Democrat Leighton Linslade South councillor Shaun Roberts warned the public’s relations with the county police force hinges on what people get after making a nuisance report.

“You might get an acknowledgement first time and then don’t hear anything else,” he said. “That affects the relationship. They lose confidence in reporting and you lose your intelligence.”