Aug 102012

Justin Smith has been seeking police help and public awareness of the issues surrounding motorbike theft in our area.  Not quite satisfied with his experiences so far with the police and the press, he shares his story with Aberdeen Voice.  By Justin Smith.

As a keen motorcyclist, I have many friends who are bikers and love to get together for a Sunday run or a social gathering.

Many of us are members of groups on Face Book, where we can chat about events, funny incidents or gripes about local roads, the police and local bike thieves.

After a number of recent events and the ensuing anger on various group pages I decided to contact a reporter I had dealt with before.

She works for the Evening Express and I hoped they would print a story and try to help deal with the current situation.

I wrote a short piece, raising a few points of concern and I was told they would put it into print. What they printed on 26/07/2012 was a laughable PR spin on how the Police were on top of the situation. That’s not uncommon in the way things are presented to the public, I’m afraid.

The story I presented to them was pretty much as follows-

There is a known problem with motorcycle thieves in Aberdeen, whether it’s in Sheddocksly, Garthdee or elsewhere. Not only do these people steal the much-loved motorbikes of hard-working people, but  they then race around on the stolen bikes at all times of day with no regard for their communities.

They are often seen riding off road, on green areas, where they are a hazard to local people out walking and generally a noisy irritation. The bikes often end up burned out.

One resident in Sheddocksly who wished to remain anonymous reports:

” On Tuesday 17/7/12, a youth on a motorcycle was observed riding around Sheddocksly in the vicinity of Lerwick Road, between17:00-18:00.  The rider had no helmet on and had also made some effort to hide his face. The bike is evidently stolen from its condition- the front headlight is missing and the number plate has been removed.”

The resident reported what he had seen to Grampian Police shortly afterwards, and was told a car would be dispatched and an officer would contact him. That was on Tuesday 17/07/12, but no one came to see him and collect the photographs he had taken until the following Tuesday the 24th.  A swift and appropriate response time I’m sure you will agree!

The police have, however, been running Operation Trinity in an effort to reduce antisocial biking since June 2011. Grampian Police said calls of concern about irresponsible offending had fallen by 69%. The force revealed that 47 reports of anti-social biking had been received in 2011, compared to 151 for the same period in 2010.

The claimed statistics of success are not being borne out in the communities where offences are taking place.

I believe the reduced calls of concern are due to members of the public giving up on Grampian Police rather than any degree of success. One officer was recently heard to say there is an ‘Epidemic’ of stolen bikes.

So despite the claimed successes of Operation Trinity, it seems more like ‘Operation Donut’ based on the poor police response to the aforementioned call and the escalating level of motorcycle theft.

The police aren’t even allowed to chase these criminals in case they are hurt while trying to evade capture or even injure an innocent passer-by. It is hardly surprising that Grampian Police are demoralised, considering the man hours they have to put in with limited resources and then the courts just let these thieves off!

While I feel the police often do a difficult job very well, there appears to be a gaping hole in our criminal justice system as things stand.  This is particularly the case with Juvenile defendants, who despite many previous offences walk away unpunished.

Such offenders know they will be treated leniently due to being minors and as such there is no deterrent.  How about some serious community service in their own neighbourhoods so they are publicly shamed? 200+ hours of picking up litter, cleaning pavements of gum, painting over graffiti, etc?

I have observed in court the pathetic punitive action taken against people in relation to serious offences and it is laughable to see the horse trading that goes on and the complete failure of the courts to appropriately punish offenders such that it acts as a deterrent. That is at the heart of the issue.

If the Justice system is failing those it is meant to protect. People will take matters into their own hands to protect what’s theirs because they can’t rely on the rule of law.

Please have a look at the attached pictures, perhaps readers could identify him? It may help the community to deal with these people.

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