Cumbrian organisations call for action to end ASB on Caldbeck Common
Cumbria’s Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (DPFCC), Mike Johnson, Cumbria Constabulary, Cumbria and Craven Trail Riders Fellowship, Cumbria Green Lane Association and Lake District National Park are urging residents to report any anti-social behaviour (ASB) taking place on Caldbeck Common to the Police.
The area, which is common ground that is privately owned by Lake District National Park, is currently experiencing a rise in illegal off-roading with unregistered motorbikes, despite legislation signs advising them against it. Often riders are not using correct protective gear such as helmet and riding at speed, which not only places them at risk but places others enjoying the area in a sensible manner at risk.
These drivers are not only committing ASB and deterring law-abiding residents and tourists from using the area, but the bikes are also causing damage to the land – often getting stuck and being abandoned. The illegal off-roading also poses a danger to wildlife and livestock in the area.
The ASB came to the Constabulary’s attention following a meeting with rural communities, organisations, and landowners as part of the Police’s dedicated resources that have been put in place to tackle with rural and wildlife crime. Working in the community, the Police are encouraging those affected to report the ASB so that action can be taken, both when it is occurring and afterwards to gather evidence.
Cumbria Police do have the power to seize vehicles that are being used in a way that can cause harassment or distress to either other people or to livestock and wildlife. A Police warning must be provided first. However, if the vehicle continues to be used to commit ASB, it can be seized under Section 59 of the Police Reform Act. Vehicles can also be seized if the rider or driver is not insured or has no road tax.
All organisations are urging residents and anyone visiting the area to report any ASB to the Police on 101, or 999 in an emergency. Police ask that people do not approach the riders personally but, if you are able to, make a note of any vehicle details and a description of the people involved.
DPFCC, Mike Johnson, said: “Caldbeck Common is a beautiful part of the county that draws in residents and tourists alike. However, anti-social behaviour involving unregistered and uninsured bikes are destroying the area and intimidating visitors to the point that they do not access the land.
“Illegal off-road bikers are using remote areas of Caldbeck common as a “playground” and in doing so, are damaging private land and the lack of protective equipment places them at risk and others.
“Rural crime is an issue in the county with much of it going unreported. Cumbria is a mostly rural county, and we need the public to be our eyes and ears in these more isolated areas so that any crime committed can be dealt with by the Police.
“These bikes are often unregistered and uninsured which means if they do cause damage or hurt someone and leave the scene, they may not be caught to face the consequences if it goes unreported.
“If you think an offence has or is about to be committed, please let the police know on 101 or 999 in an emergency. We need residents to let us know so that the Police can take action.
“Together we can make Cumbria an even safer place to live.”
Sergeant Amanda McKirdy, said: “We know there is an issue in the area of Caldbeck Common involving the anti-social use of vehicles being used off road causing damage and deterring locals and visitors to the area.
“As a result of the issues we are looking to increase patrols in the area to act as a deterrent and reduce the activity in the area but would encourage members of the public who witnesses this behaviour to report it to us.
“Those misusing off-road bikes are not just posing a risk to themselves due to the lack proper protective equipment such as helmets but also to members of the public when they ride, often at high speeds and dangerously.
“Often, reports received relate to illegal driving by road registered vehicles- predominantly 4×4 type vehicles committing the traffic offences on common land. This often results in them getting grounded which causes more damage when they have to recover them. Or they leave abandoned vehicles.
“Other areas see damage to Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which causes irreparable damage to flora and fauna as well. Some of these species may also be endangered.
“This behaviour is also having a detrimental effect on the local communities and those within to visit the area who have been intimidated by the behaviour.”
Lake District National Park Authority’s Northern Area Ranger, Carl Bradford, said: “The Lake District National Park Authority encourage the responsible use of off-road vehicles on legal byways.
“Unfortunately, we are experiencing a large number of incidents of off-roading using both 4×4’s and motorcycles on land that does not permit this, be it on LDNPA owned land, or other landowners.
“It is illegal to take a mechanically propelled vehicle elsewhere other than roads unless it is a lawful route. Notably, this also includes Common land.
“Many of the landscapes are protected and off-roading not only causes damage to these special landscapes which can take years to recover, but also disturbs wildlife such as ground nesting birds.
“The LDNPA are pleased to be working in conjunction with Cumbria Police to target this illegal activity and encourage responsible behaviour.“
Chris Kaighin, Area Manager for Natural England’s Cumbria Team, said “The habitats found within the SSSI are part of a fragile ecosystem. Off-road vehicles used in these areas can churn up the ground creating deep ruts and causing long term damage to these habitats. Illegal off-roading can also disturb livestock and nesting birds as well as leading to the destruction of rare plants and flowers”.
Pictured [L to R] –
Andrew Broomby, Chairman of Cumbria and Craven Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF)
Sergeant Amanda McKirdy
DPFCC Mike Johnson
PC Richard Kemp
Patrick Lacey, Cumbria Green Lane Association (GLASS)
Peter Apps, Cumbria Green Lane Association (GLASS)