Residents in Ballykeel and visitors to ecos are being terrorised by the reckless riding of scramblers and quads in their midst, it has emerged.
Ballymena PSNI say they will take action on anyone caught misusing an off-road vehicle following an upsurge in reports to neighbourhood officers of such incidents in public places.
Local DUP MLA Paul Frew says there has been “a dramatic increase in reckless activity and behaviour” by young people riding scramblers on paths in ecos and in Ballykeel and that he fears someone will be seriously injured if it is allowed to continue.
He told The Times: “I have been contacted by many families who have complained that they or their children were close to being knocked down by these people on scramblers.
“On one occasion one came over the brow of a hill and narrowly missed a child who was on a kids’ toy car riding beside his father. On a separate occasion, a young girl out walking with her parents had to take decisive action and dive out of the way of the speeding motorcyclist, landing in a heap off the path.
“On some occasions babies and toddlers have been left in hysterics as these bikers come within inches of their prams and toys and then let rip, speeding away shouting and screaming as if it’s one big joke. Someone is going to get seriously hurt or killed by their actions. They are terrorising the community,” said the MLA, who appealed to parents of young people using such vehicles to “keep their children under control”.
Chief Inspector, Catherine Magee said Ballymena PSNI were aware of the local concerns and that police “will take action to curb the nuisance and dangers associated with the use of off-road scramblers and quads in public areas”.
She said: “Quads, and some scramblers, do not comply with Construction and Use regulations and Vehicle Safety Standards and, therefore, are restricted to “off-road” use only.
“This does not mean they can be driven anywhere ‘off-road’. These vehicles should only be driven on private land where the landowner has given permission and should not be driven on pavements, roads, public property or parks; this includes green grass areas and public paths.
“Riders must be aware of the minimum requirements by law, such as insurance and safety equipment that must be complied with.
“Police would urge people to consider others living in their community or the areas where these vehicles are being used. Parents too are asked to play their part by considering how their children use these vehicles.
“Police also have the power to seize these vehicles. It is important that people recognise that this is a real possibility and has happened before. Police will enforce the necessary legislation in an effort to ensure public safety”, said Chief Inspector Magee.
Eugene Reid, Chair of Ballymena Policing & Community Safety Partnership, said members were taking the matter very seriously and had convened an inter-agency working group “to examine all potential solutions to this difficult issue”.
“We would urgently appeal for anyone who frequents the ecos centre and has information which may help in identifying the culprits, to pass it on the PSNI as soon as possible,” he said.