A FIRST-of-its kind scheme to tackle youngsters riding bikes in a dangerous and antisocial manner is being introduced by Cleveland Police.

Acting neighbourhood sergeant Mike Doherty came up with the idea for the scheme after numerous complaints from the public in Middlesdbrough about youngsters riding at speed through shopping centres and in built-up areas – including in front of houses with direct access to the street.

There were concerns that someone could be seriously hurt.

Bikes are also used to complete drug runs as they can leave a scene quickly and have no easily identifiable way of tracing them, such as a registration number.

Now new plans include introducing £30 fines and send the youngsters on a course to teach them to ride responsibly.

Sgt Doherty, who works in the Hemlington neighbourhood area, said: "We had a problem in that there was no way of tackling this before.

"We couldn't issue fixed penalty fines and we didn't want to criminalise the young people.

"Our focus wants to be on education rather than punishment.

"Now young people who are caught riding anti-socially or dangerously will be reported to the Youth Offending Team and will have to pay a £30 fine that day.

"This money goes to local charity Middlesbrough Environment City to benefit the neighbourhood and the cyclist can then attend a three-hour cycling proficiency course and get a certificate.

"This way youngsters can come out of the process having learned something – and with a nationally-recognised qualification."

Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger said: "At many of the community meetings I attend, the issue of antisocial use of cycles comes up.

"Young riders may not realise how intimidating it can be when they ride at speed in residential areas or when they cycle around in an anti-social way.

"With its focus on education, this is a scheme which will benefit everyone and I'm happy to support it."

The Northern Echo:

BIKE SCHEME: Cleveland Police launch the UK’s first scheme tackling youngsters’ antisocial cycling at Environment City on Ladgate Lane in the town

Mike O'Reilly, active travel co-ordinator for Middlesbrough Environment City, will run the courses.

He already runs cycling classes for years five and six across Middlesbrough primary schools.

The course for anti-social cyclists will include theory and presentations on riding safely followed by tips on bike maintenance.

Sergeant Doherty, Mr Coppinger, Police Community Support officer Mark Ballinger and Mr O'Reilly were at the former Nature's World site to launch the new scheme – the first of its kind in the country.

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