Life on bikes

Police increasingly seizing anti-social off-road bikes

Police across the country are seizing scramblers and other off-road bikes that are being used in anti-social behaviour.

In a sign that police forces are no longer tolerating the use of motorcycles for anti-social behaviour, two forces in less than a week have announced the seizure of off-road bikes.

On Tuesday, Humberside police arrested five people and seized six motorbikes in Grimsby and Cleethorpes following incidents reported in Lincolnshire, the Peak District and the North York Moors.

Earlier, West Yorkshire police seized five off-road bikes that have been used illegally. At such an early point in the year, the seizures are seen as a determined attempt to clamp down on anti-social scrambler riders. In the previous year, the same force seized 78 bikes, leading to more than 30 successful court cases.


Another force, West Midland Police, conducted a major operation in October 2017, leading to the arrest of 50 people and the seizure of 50 off-road bikes. On one day alone 28 addresses were raided and 14 off-road seized that the police said was a response to demands from the public to deal with “louts who plague communities and intimidate road users”.

One of the tactics being used by police is the use of SelectaDNA criminal marking spray to mark offenders during criminal or unwanted activity and identify them at a later date. South Yorkshire Police recently secured a 15-month prison sentence for an offender who was tagged with the spray. The spray’s unique chemical signature directly tied the offender to his offences when officers filmed the deployment of the DNA when the rider was seen driving dangerously and without a licence.

Officers explain DNA tagging

Scramblers and other off-road bikes are commonly used for stunting and anti-social ride-outs, often in large groups identifying themselves with the BikeLife movement.


Footage shared on social media regularly shows bikes without registration plates pulling wheelies, riding on pavements and intimidating other road users. Many riders don’t wear helmets – seen as a tactic to prevent police from conducting pursuits, although many forces have said the lack of a helmet does not always mean a pursuit will not be authorised.

The use of bikes for anti-social behaviour is closely linked to motorcycle theft. In 2013, Merseyside Police seized 171 bikes, 122 of which were stolen and a further 18 were believed to be stolen.

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