Motorcyclists to stage protest amid rise in thefts and jackings

Protesters will take to the Scottish Parliament building on Saturday.

Motorcyclists to stage protest at Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh amid rise in thefts and jackings Handout

Motorcyclists are set to stage a protest at the Scottish Parliament amid a “rise in bike thefts and violent jackings”.

The protesters will take to Edinburgh on Saturday to raise awareness of the issue and call for greater action against the growing crime.

One of the protesters said the recent rise in violence and theft towards bikers is an “embarrassment” to the city.

He said: “As a community we’re seen a sharp increase in the number of bike thefts in the last few weeks, particularly tourists falling victim as they just don’t have the crime levels back home, its embarrassing for the city and the country.

“Even more worrying are the beatings and violent robberies; thieves determined enough to get hold a bike to run rampage or commit phone and bag snatches that they will attack riders in the street, sometimes bringing hammers or knives. I hear younger riders and our female riders saying they don’t feel safe riding in the city any more.

“We need pursuit and contact powers restored to our police officers to bring them back up to a strength comparable with the London Met who dealt with a similar problem, the safety of these criminals can’t keep being put above the safety of Edinburgh people.

“Likewise we need sentencing that prioritises the removal of individuals who persistently terrorise the community from the community, whatever their age. Its the same few dozen people that keep operating with impunity because even once the police can make and arrest the courts fail us all. Its failing these individuals too, the proof is they just aren’t changing their ways. Nobody is winning.”

And one of the groups backing the protest are demanding a stop to the thefts and violence, an increase to police funding and powers, mandatory sentences and that the safety of riders is put before thieves.

Motorcycle Action Group said: “Edinburgh bikers will be demonstrating outside the Scottish Parliament buildings this Saturday calling for greater action against motorcycle crime.

“MAG is fully supportive and working to help bring about greater focus on motorcycle theft in Scotland and all other parts of the UK.”

The protest is taking place exactly a week on from a similar event last Friday when around 30 bikers took to Holyrood over the issue.

The group, made up mostly of riders who have been victims of theft or violent assault, held up a banner saying: “Sick of bike thieves, empower the police, mandatory sentences”.

They then met with police and discussed the problem for about an hour outside the building.

MAG’s director of campaigns and political engagement Colin Brown said: “Our research has shown that on average motorcycles are eleven times more likely to be stolen than cars, and despite representing only 3% of all registered vehicles in Great Britain, they are the subject of a staggering 25% of all motor vehicle thefts.

“This means that motorcyclists are disproportionately affected by this type of crime. But motorcycle theft receives insignificant levels of attention in terms of the fight against crime in comparison with theft of cars and vans.

“The recent and shocking rise in motorcycle theft in Edinburgh has featured not just theft, but violence towards the owners attempting to prevent their machines from being stolen.

“Often tourists are targeted as they are particularly vulnerable not having private property on which to secure their bikes. This criminal activity affects not just the individual riders being targeted, but also the reputation of Scotland as a desirable tourist destination.

“Scotland has great biking roads that attract riders from all over the world. Many of these visitors are facing a far from warm welcome.

“As an organisation MAG works closely with the Motorcycle Crime Reduction Group and offers assistance to all police forces.

“We often find rank and file officers more than willing to focus on the issue, but suffering from a lack of resource and direction from seniors.

“We have been unable to get Police Scotland to provide accurate theft data through our Freedom of Information requests.

“We have run this research annually for the last 4 years, but have never received data from Police Scotland. We are willing to work with Police Scotland and other agencies, but they need to open the door to us, accept the disproportionality of suffering that riders are facing, and work with us to tackle the issue head on.

“Hopefully these demonstrations will lead to a meaningful dialogue for the sake of all motorcyclists.”

Officers from Police Scotland have confirmed a rise in the incidents and warned offenders that it will not be tolerated.

Superintendent Sam Ainslie said: “Many types of offending behaviour, including motorcycle crime, reduced dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic, albeit disappointingly we are now seeing this issue returning to pre-pandemic levels.

“We have received a number of reports in recent weeks relating to the theft and reckless use of motorcycles across the city.

“This behaviour will not be tolerated, and working with partners, and Road Policing we have co-ordinated plans in place as part of Operation Soteria, to proactively prevent and address these concerns.

“This has included deploying Edinburgh Division’s very own Operation Orbit officers who are trained in the use of off-road motorbikes, these officers have and will continue to patrol any identified areas to identify offenders, prevent and deter further incidents and provide community reassurance.

“Road safety is one of Edinburgh Division’s top priorities, and notwithstanding the risk these reckless individuals pose to their own safety, their behaviours cause significant risk to pedestrians and other road users, and I wish to reassure the public that offenders will be dealt with robustly.

“To allow us to target our patrols effectively, I would encourage communities to report incidents via 101, and should anyone have information as to the identity of those placing communities at risk, this can be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

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