Eagle eyes on bad bikers

Eagle eyes from a long lens camera are preying on nuisance motorcyclists in a City Council and Northumbria Police partnership.

Off-road bikers in the Ryhope and Doxford areas of Sunderland are a regular noise nuisance on public paths and cycle paths, damaging public and private land, and putting walkers and cyclists at risk of injury.

In June, the City Council’s East Area Committee paid for a £800 telephoto zoom lens that local police officers are now using to help identify off-road bikers as part of Operation Eagle.

The dedicated operation has already had a significant impact – with more than a dozen riders identified, eight Section 59 warning notices handed out to riders and one motorbike seized by police.

Money for the lens came from the committee's Community Chest fund which annually grants funds to partnership projects that benefit residents.

Sunderland has five area committees - Coalfield, East, North, West, Washington - and the chair of the East Area committee is a Doxford ward councillor, Councillor Elizabeth Gibson.

She said: "We are a City Council that works in partnership and here, between the police and information from residents, we're all working together to tackle these noisy and nuisance off-road motorcyclists.

"These riders are not welcome on our footpaths, on our cycle paths, or in our neighbourhoods. If you want to go off-roading on a motorbike you need to find a club or somewhere it is legal. If you don't do this and you're identified as riding illegally you can lose your bike.

"The vast majority of people want the best for our city and motorcycle anti-social behaviour is not welcome in Sunderland."

Neighbourhood Sergeant Craig Sherriff, who is overseeing Operation Eagle, has welcomed the early results and says anybody found to be involved in motorcycle disorder will be dealt with robustly.

Sgt Sherriff said: "We understand the significant and corrosive impact that anti-social behaviour can have on the communities we serve, and that’s why we’re working closely with the council to tackle motorcycle disorder across the city.

"The long lens camera provided by the council is allowing officers to get clear pictures of those involved in this type of disorder, and these can be used as irrefutable evidence that allows us to seize bikes and deal with riders appropriately.

"Uniformed and plain-clothed officers are carrying out dedicated patrols in hotspot areas as part of Operation Eagle, and we’ve already had some encouraging results. That work will continue as we look to keep our communities safe.

"If you see any off-road riders or vehicle-related crimes happening in your area, please get in touch with us. We also want to hear from anyone who believes they know where these bikes are being stored overnight."

* Anyone with information is asked to contact officers via the ‘Tell Us Something’ page of the Northumbria Police website or by calling 101. Information given to the police is treated as confidential and can be passed on anonymously.

Ryhope Ward councillor Paula Hunt said : "It's a regular complaint and comment from residents across the ward - 'what can be done about these noisy and nuisance motorcyclists?'

"It's a problem that, unfortunately, too many of our residents have experienced and one that this council and our partners were absolutely determined to tackle.

"I am happy to report this camera lens is delivering good results. Residents are reporting where they can see and, sadly, hear the bikes. Police officers have this information and with a long lens it's much easier to identify the culprits, serve them notices and seize their bikes.

"I'd like to thank residents who've been really helpful in combating this nuisance."


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Sunderland's Friendship Agreement with Washington DC makes us the only city in Europe to enjoy such a relationship with the world's most powerful city. Washington Old Hall is home to the direct ancestors of the first president of the United States of America.


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