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Police consider using seized e-bikes for crime crackdown

28 Sep 2023 3 minute read
Seized e-bikes in Newport, July 2023. Credit: Gwent Police Newport Officers via X (Twitter)

Nicholas Thomas, local democracy reporter

A fleet of seized e-bikes could be used by police to crack down on crimes connected to the use of the vehicles.

Officers in Newport have seized 88 electric or off-road bikes in the city since the start of the year, a senior Gwent Police officer told councillors this week.

The bikes – which are only legal, generally speaking, if they are pedal-assisted – are often linked to anti-social behaviour and crimes like the supply of Class-A drugs, Superintendent Jason White added.

He told councillors the most satisfying outcome would be to turn problem users’ own vehicles against them, by letting police officers ride seized e-bikes around the city in a bid to catch further offenders.

“What I would like to do is have a police fleet – what better to do than use the bikes we have seized from them?” Supt White said at a Newport City Council meeting.

Community intelligence

He also praised Newport residents, noting a high level of “community intelligence” had helped police with the crackdown, with a large amount of the police focus on the east of the city.

Lliswerry ward councillor Allan Morris told colleagues the bikes themselves were “a small part of the problem – it’s what they are being used for [that is also important]”.

Supt White agreed, telling councillors e-bikes were “linked to Class-A drugs supply”.

Four people from Cllr Morris’ ward had been detained and were “currently serving prison sentences” for such offences, he added.

Presiding officer Paul Cockeram asked what the police would do with the 88 bikes it had removed from the city’s streets.

“The vast majority we are going to crush,” Supt White replied, before adding: “Some of those bikes are brand new, they’re probably four or five thousand pounds each.”

The superintendent also gave an overview of recent crime trends in Newport.

He said there had been a reduction in robberies, as well as a drop in violent crime and both residential and commercial burglaries, over the summer.

But some types of acquisitive crime were on the rise, he warned. Both shoplifting and vehicle crimes have increased in the city, in line with national trends.

Supt White added that Gwent Police’s own investigations of shoplifting offences in the city had returned a “positive outcome rate of 33%”, which he said was higher than national rates.

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