POLICE are cracking down on the mini-motorbike riders who risk their lives - and those of the public - by flouting the law.
Officers are adopting a 'no-nonsense' approach to the rapidly growing problem of illegal and anti-social motorbike riders throughout Mid Cheshire as part of a nationwide Government response to the dangers of mini-motorbikes, which have already claimed seven lives.
Though they are marketed at youngsters as 'toys', mini-motorbikes can reach speeds of 60mph but can only be driven in public only if the rider is taxed, insured and old enough to hold a licence.
Youngriders racingnoisilyaroundestates and on fields can expect to be dealt with harshly. Officers have powers to seize bikes from riders who ride anti-socially and illegally, withahighcost to get them released, along with fixed penalty notices and Anti-Social Behaviour Orders for riders who persistently cause harassment, alarm or distress. Police can also work with councils to issue noise-abatement orders and even have offending vehicles crushed.
Insp Pete Minghella says the number of incidents recorded this year in Northwich's illegal biking hotspots of Barnton, Lostock Gralam and Rudheath, is down on the same period in 2005.
He said: 'We've been employing these measures since February and I've not heard of that many incidents and during the summer holidays you would expect a peak in such behaviour.'
Insp Ian Gallagher says there have been an increase in the number of mini-motorbikes offences in the Winsford area.
He said: 'If they are being advertised as toys then they certainly aren't - in the wrong hands mini-motorbikes can be lethal, but we're not just focussing on them, we are looking at the whole spectrum of motor-bikes.
'We've been looking at the incidents, we recognise the situation and have got specific operations to tackle it with dedicated officers in the area who make it their number one priority. The problem is escalating and we want to nip it in the bud.
'We are emphasising to parents to take responsibility for the actions of their children and be aware how dangerous these bikes can be. The problem is that people are riding without the equipment and crash helmets, in the wrong areas at inappropriate speeds, putting themselves and the public at risk.
'We've already had someone who has received serious head injuries in an accident caused by riding a bike on an estate.'
PCSO Roger Need of Middlewich police also welcomed the move. He said: 'We have given out a number of warnings which last 12 months, and so far we haven't seen any of the vehicles or the riders again so we haven't had to seize any vehicles.'