Life on bikes

Derbyshire police start social media row with bikers

A new road safety social media campaign aimed at bikers has quickly degenerated into a slanging match between Derbyshire Constabulary and riders angry at being targeted with ‘easy fines’.

Many bikers pointed out they had been pulled over without cause, especially in the Matlock area and that, instead of targeting bikes, the police could consider chasing actual criminals. And car drivers having a cheeky spliff while texting.

The Facebook and Instagram campaign, which launched at 9am on Good Friday, was designed to make bikers aware that Derbyshire officers would be focussing on motorcycles in the Summer season.

The Facebook post featured a video by Sergeant Ian Miller talking about the enforcement and educational benefits of Operation Safe Ride.

Before riding off (without indicating, some wag spotted), the officer made it clear the operation was more about, “…catching people doing the wrong thing.”

Predictably, there then followed a stream of comments by riders angry about being singled out.

One comment, which so far has had over 250 Likes, put it quite neatly: “Any chance of using some of your resources to tackle the current ‘bike theft epidemic instead of targeting normal, everyday working folk for trivial offences? Thought not, not much money in it.”

Not quite realising the strength of feeling among bikers about the issue of bike theft, specifically, or the feeling that we are a soft target, Derbyshire Constabulary first pointed out that they did tackle bike theft but then, in response to other comments, decided to significantly raise the ya-boo stakes.

“If you check our website and even this Facebook page, you’ll see court results where we’ve arrested and helped convict murderers, rapists, a gang who went round extorting businesses in the Amber Valley area, and one man who indecently assaulted 15 women in 18 days. We don’t have arrest targets.”

Not to denigrate their achievements in serious crime reduction, but we are not quite sure how many more rapists, murderers and extortionists could be caught by pulling over bikers en-masse, as the Derbyshire police frequently do. As a point not-very-well-made it happily sank into the morass as bikers continued to vent their frustration at being targeted for easy fines.

Numerous comments mentioned the police could do more to target drivers using phones at the wheel, cars with illegally tinted windows and the deluge of uninsured drivers.

Possibly bored by having to repeat a mantra of, “It’s simple: Ride within the law and we won’t bother you. If you can’t do that, we will bother you.” Derbyshire Dibble then started to get a bit sarcastic.

A biker had written, “Bike thefts on the rise. Drunk drivers seen daily. Drivers on their phone. Uninsured drivers. People driving around while smoking weed and yet all you’re bothered about this summer is pulling bikers for a small reg plate or slightly loud exhaust..  how about go fight real crime and earn back the respect you’ve long lost!”

To which the person in control of Derbyshire Constabulary’s social media came back with, “And there it is people, the “go fight real crime” comment that always makes an appearance.”

Again, we are a bit nonplussed. Isn’t being intoxicated at the wheel a real crime, that puts other road users in great danger? Isn’t the theft of someone’s motorcycle considered a REAL crime by this force?

One of the not hugely obvious police bikes used in the operation
One of the not hugely obvious police bikes used in the operation

Now on a roll, PC Social Media then tore into a comment about the lack of foot patrols, the proliferation of ANPR and the use of unmarked police vehicles and helicopters with this friendly retort: “Where do we start with this post? Ok, so money from fines goes into central government; Derbyshire Constabulary does not directly gain from fines. Panda-type cars are so 1984; police officers are on foot patrol every single day and we no longer own the helicopter, NPAS own that now. Thanks for your comment.”

No, Derbyshire Keyboard Plod, thank YOU, for your comments. We’ve been kept entertained all Easter.

Except, we REALLY DO, want you to stop targeting bikers for such major crimes as smaller number plates and louder exhausts, neither of which contribute to road deaths involving motorcycles.

We REALLY DO want you and every other force to tackle bike theft to the point where our insurance premiums go down. Because right now the thieves are taking the piss out of you.

And we REALLY DO want you to see that pulling large groups of bikers may be ‘more efficient’ but, in reality, it is just lazy profiling, that causes resentment in the biking community. Just because a group of people chooses to ride one type of vehicle together in a group, does not mean that we should automatically be considered anti-social.

Get yourself sorted: Have your say: https://www.facebook.com/derbyshireconstabulary/videos/10155268184948000/

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B&B Staff

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