Police bid to bring back motorbikes
ESSEX Police is looking at reintroducing motorbikes to its fleet of vehicles – six years after they were controversially scrapped as part of cost-cutting exercises.
ESSEX Police is looking at reintroducing motorbikes to its fleet of vehicles - six years after they were controversially scrapped as part of cost-cutting exercises.
The rethink comes amid concern about the ability of the force to respond quickly to road crashes and other emergencies in what is becoming an increasingly congested county.
With 29 riders being killed in crashes on Essex's roads last year it is also thought it could help to improve relations with the biking community, especially young riders.
The force scrapped its motorbikes in 1999 in changes which also saw mounted police being cut.
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But Robert Chambers, chairman of Essex Police Authority, said he felt the force should use motorbikes.
"I have always said publicly I am in favour of motorcyclists coming back in Essex, there is a time and a place for everything and I think there is a place for police motorcycles back in Essex," he said.
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"I am very much in favour of anything that will help the relationship with bikers and I am in favour of PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers) having the opportunity of having scooters so they can relate to young people."
Essex county councillor Roy Smith has called for force's new Chief Constable, Roger Baker, to make the change.
The councillor for Clacton West said: "I have received a number of complaints from residents concerning the response times to incidents.
"And during my own experiences on the road I have noticed long delays in attending serious accidents on major roads, with the knock-on effect of long delays because of traffic congestion."
He said he believed bikes would be able to cut through tailbacks far quicker than patrol cars could.
"I feel with the reintroduction of bikes it would be a great benefit for motorists and also the local communities who could benefit from quicker response times," he said.
A spokeswoman for the police authority confirmed the Chief Constable was considering the reintroduction of motorbikes.
She said: "The reason why motorbikes were scrapped in the first place was that it was part of cost-cutting measures procedures which we were asked to do by central Government.
"We had to identify areas where we could make savings and that was one, along with the mounted officers.
"There was also concern over safety issues from the old Chief Constable, David Stevens.
"However, we are actively investigating the possibility of reintroducing them - congestion is now a lot worse and we have moved on from six years ago when they were scrapped and we feel they can have a place here."
A report on the issue is expected to be completed within the next two months.