Police officers and council wardens have visited the homes and schools of teenage cyclists accused of riding their bikes in a “mob-like” manner in Middlesbrough. But while such groups may attract alarmist headlines in the press, often it keeps them away from being involved in crime.
The operation followed what Mayor of Middlesbrough Andy Preston described as “intimidating” behaviour by a group of young bike riders in the north-east England town.
Last month, CCTV pictures were issued showing a group of riders at the corner of Grange Road and Linthorpe Road, reports Teesside Live.
In a statement, the mayor revealed that some of the youths identified had received visits from police and council street wardens at their homes or schools.
He said: “When gangs of bike-riding youths swarmed Middlesbrough town centre mob-handed, blocking roads and intimidating shoppers, I vowed the council and police would take action – and we have.
“The perpetrators from across Teesside were identified from CCTV footage – and we've made five visits to secondary schools to confirm the identity of the youths.
“We've visited 25 homes - with 18 youths issued with warnings and seven made to sign 'acceptable behaviour contracts', which if broken will result in more serious consequences.”
At the time, police put a dispersal order in force, permitting officers to move the youths on.
Preston added: "The majority of parents were supportive of our actions – but follow-up calls to homes and schools will be made.
“Intimidating shoppers for entertainment is completely unacceptable behaviour and we’ve had very strong public backing on this.
“I’m determined to make our town centre a safe, welcoming place for shoppers, residents and visitors alike.”
While groups of youths taking to their bikes and riding through town and city centres pulling wheelies and suchlike may alarm some people and generate negative headlines in the local press, there is often an important social message behind it.
The BikeStormz movement, centred on London, promotes a Bikes Up, Knives Down message and, as we’ve covered here previously on road.cc, offers marginalised young people a different path to engaging in gang culture and crime.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.