A police clampdown on illegal off-road bikes is being revved up – as a councillor warns areas of Hartlepool are being blighted by the issue.
Operation Endurance was launched by police in Cleveland and Durham earlier this year.
It is bidding to educate people on the laws surrounding such vehicles, including motorcycles, mini motos, quad bikes and electric scooters.
Police are also trying to combat anti-social behaviour taking place using such vehicles.
Figures discussed in a meeting of the Safer Hartlepool Partnership at Hartlepool Civic Centre showed that, between August 1, 2016 and August 31, 2017, 431 such incidents were reported in Hartlepool.
That compares to a total of 3,911 cases across the force area, with Hartlepool having among the lowest figures.
The Hartlepool figure is significantly lower than some of the others, but I still find it to be a high numberMal Suggitt
However, Inspector Mal Suggitt, who is part of the Hartlepool neighbourhood policing team, insists that number is still too high.
He said: “The Hartlepool figure is significantly lower than some of the others, but I still find it to be a high number, and we need to do something about it.
“We’re looking at different ways to tackle the issue, but the main thing is to get intelligence from members of the community.
“We also work closely with petrol stations, making them aware so they are mindful about who they sell petrol to.”
Coun Stephen Thomas, who represents the De Bruce ward, also spoke of his concern.
He told the meeting: “The Hartlepool figure is relatively low compared to some areas, but there are some hotspots for this in the town, one of which is my ward.
“It’s something you see on quite a regular basis.
“One of the issues that concerns me is that I see quite a lot of young people in charge of what look to be quite powerful and potentially dangerous machines.
“It will probably, in the grand scheme of policing priorities, not be at the top, but it makes a real impact on the communities it is affecting on a regular basis.
“Messages are going out into the community and hopefully they will provide information to the police so they get as much knowledge as possible.”
Operation Endurance was initially rolled out in Durham, before being expanded to the Cleveland force area too.
As well as tackling anti-social behaviour, it is bidding to educate people on the laws surrounding off-road bikes.
They can be subject to additional costs under road traffic laws. Meanwhile, on public roads, all riders or drivers must hold a suitable licence, insurance, tax, registration plate and may also need a valid MoT.