POLICE have been dealing with an increase in reports of young people riding off-road motorbikes and quad bikes in a Cheshire town despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Cheshire Constabulary received several reports of such vehicles being ridden illegally on Tuesday.

On the same day officers also assisted colleagues from Merseyside Police in recovering off-road vehicles near Ramsbrook Lane in Hale Village.

The areas of Widnes where complaints have been received include Hale Road, Norlands Lane, Lunts Heath Road and Canterbury Road.

Detective Inspector Ian Whiley, of Widnes Local Policing Unit (LPU), said: “Everyone should be aware of the need to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Yet there has been a spike in reports of young people riding scrambler bikes and quad bikes in Widnes.

“We have had reports of young people doing so at speed and whilst not wearing helmets.

“What these young people are doing is not only illegal, it is also putting lives at risk.

“By not following the government’s guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, they are increasing the chances of the virus spreading and potentially putting unnecessary strain on emergency medical care.

“I would like to reassure members of the community that we have increased patrols in the Widnes LPU area in a bid to tackle the problem of young people going out of their homes to ride off-road vehicles.

“The increased patrols include officers on off-road motorbikes.

“I urge young people to stop going out on off-road motorbikes and quad bikes and I ask their parents/guardians to ensure that this is complied with, for the safety of the young person and for the safety of others.

“I also urge members of the public to keep reporting any instances of off-road vehicles being ridden illegally.

“We want information in relation to where these vehicles are being stored and key factors regarding the riders, such as a detailed description of them and what they were wearing as well as potential names."

Police have the power to seize scrambler bikes which are used in a way which causes harassment, alarm or distress.

A warning is given first, but if that fails to be effective and the bike is used in an anti-social way again it will be seized under Section 59 of the Police Reform Act.

All forms of motorcycles can also be seized if they are ridden on a public road unless the rider is at least 16 years old, holds the relevant licence, is covered by insurance and has paid their road tax.

Anyone with information regarding young people riding off-road motorbikes or quad bikes should contact Cheshire Constabulary on 101 or give the details via the website.

Alternatively, information can be reported to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via the Crimestoppers website.