A POLICE commissioner has poured cold water on suggestions that officers could routinely knock people off motorcycles and quad bikes to crack down on speeding and antisocial behaviour affecting many residents.

Acting commissioner for Durham, Steve White – who has repeatedly faced pressure from Darlington Borough Council to tackle motorbike-related offences since he took on the role last September – was responding to claims that Durham Constabulary officers routinely refused to stop offenders.

Highlighting the extent of the issue across the borough at a meeting of the authority, Stephenson ward councillor Ian Haszeldine said residents had sent him thousands of photos featuring antisocial behaviour involving motorcycles.

He read to Mr White an email he had been sent by a female Yarm Road resident, stating: “I watched as a quad biker raced up the road and watched as two officers in a car looked on. I questioned why they hadn’t intervened and I was informed it wasn’t their policy to do so as the risks of getting involved outweighed the benefits of stopping them.

“People all over the town are angry that these quad bikes are speeding, are intimidating and are a danger to the road. They are noise polluting and wreck nature reserves and playing fields and yet the police just hold back, because there might be an accident.

“How is that responsible policing for a local community when local Facebook pages and newspaper columns are littered with people despairing with them? How can police on the one hand appeal for information about quad bikers, when the reality is they don’t stop them on the roads, even when they are blatantly committing speeding offences in front of them?”

Cllr Haszeldine said in London, where crime rates were high, police were pursuing the offenders and “actually knocking them off their bikes to catch them”.

In 2018, in response to a wave of moped thefts, the Metropolitan Police announced it had chased and knocked 63 offenders of their vehicles.

Commissioner Mr White told members of the authority when police responded to such incidents with enforced stops there had to be “a proportionate reason to do that” and officers needed to consider safe ways of achieving aims, such as intelligence or taking down details and investigating later.

Referring to the Yarm Road example, he said: “Who knows what happened or what was available to those officers on that day?

“But antisocial behaviour and traffic incidents I am well aware is very high on the list that bothers local people, which is why I have been investing in roads policing issues and why we need to continue to work with the borough council to design out some ways in which this nuisance can occur, whether it be roadside furniture.”

He said he had also been on the receiving end of when people got injured and of lengthy litigation processes.

Mr White said: “Is it proportionate to knock someone off a motorcycle or a quad bike if they are exceeding the 30mph speed limit by 10mph? As annoying as that may be, I would have to say that wouldn’t be proportionate. If they had just committed an armed robbery or a murder then that proportionality in terms of appropriateness will change.”

He said the force has units that specialise with antisocial behaviour with vehicles which spent time in Darlington when they could, but there were not enough of them, adding: “Like all things we perhaps do not have the sufficient resource.”